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03.27.19

Links 27/3/2019: 4MLinux 29.0 Beta, Firefox 66.0.2

Posted in News Roundup at 6:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Server

    • An introduction to Linux virtual interfaces: Tunnels

      Linux has supported many kinds of tunnels, but new users may be confused by their differences and unsure which one is best suited for a given use case. In this article, I will give a brief introduction for commonly used tunnel interfaces in the Linux kernel. There is no code analysis, only a brief introduction to the interfaces and their usage on Linux. Anyone with a network background might be interested in this information. A list of tunnel interfaces, as well as help on specific tunnel configuration, can be obtained by issuing the iproute2 command ip link help.

    • A Partner’s Guide to Red Hat Summit

      Each year at Red Hat Summit we highlight the innovative and thought-provoking case studies and success stories coming from our partner network. Just as open source wouldn’t be the same without the community, Red Hat wouldn’t be the same without our partners. They play an integral role in our success and support our Red Hat Summit. For that, we want to say thank you.

      If you’re a partner and it’s your first (or your fifth time) going, a little planning can go a long way to helping you make the most of your time at the premier enterprise open source technology conference. Here are a few tips as you get ready to join us in Boston.

    • The making of Creating ChRIS: Creating and producing an original video series

      Rachel Rooney, producer, and Dave Baeumler, associate creative director, discuss building an original video series and how it contributes to the company’s marketing efforts. Dave breaks down the decision to do chapertized content versus creating one video asset, and Rachel walks through the logistical challenges and the unpredictability of being on set.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • LHS Episode #277: Nano Nano

      Hello and welcome to the latest short-format episode of Linux in the Ham Shack. In this episode, the hosts discuss improvements to the Nano editor, Indian satellites with amateur radio payloads, Puerto Rico bracing for a year of emcomm, add-on applications for WSJT-X, network time protocol (NTP) and much more. Thank you for listening and supporting our program!

    • Coder Radio 350

      We debate Rust’s role as a replacement for C, and share our take on the future of gaming with Google’s Stadia.

      Plus Objective-C’s return to grace, Mike’s big bet on .NET, and more!

    • GeekRant #354 – No Solutions, Just Problems
    • Tainted Love | LINUX Unplugged 294

      Why we sometimes go too far with our Linux advocacy, and a few humble strategies to switch people to Linux.

      Plus an update to the most important text editor in the world, the new distro causing controversy, and what is a tainted kernel.

    • mintCast 305 – Podcast Production

      This is mintCast: A podcast by the Linux Mint community for all users of Linux

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux Foundation

      • LVFS Project Announcement

        The Linux Foundation welcomes the Linux Vendor Firmware Service (LVFS) as a new project. LVFS is a secure website that allows hardware vendors to upload firmware updates. It’s used by all major Linux distributions to provide metadata for clients, such as fwupdmgr, GNOME Software and KDE Discover.

        To learn more about the project’s history and goals, we talked with Richard Hughes, upstream maintainer of LVFS and Principal Software Engineer at Red Hat.

      • OpenDaylight, Most Pervasive Open Source SDN Controller, Celebrates Sixth Anniversary with Neon Release

        LF Networking (LFN), which facilitates collaboration and operational excellence across networking projects, today announced OpenDaylight (ODL), the most pervasive open source Software Defined Networking (SDN) controller, celebrates its sixth anniversary with the release of OpenDaylight Neon.

        The Linux Foundation’s first networking project and now part of LFN, OpenDaylight was founded in 2013 as an open source framework to accelerate adoption, foster innovation, and create a more open and transparent approach to SDN. Today, ODL has become the most pervasive open source SDN controller that helps power over 1B global network subscribers. Its 10th release, OpenDaylight Neon, demonstrates industry commitment to fostering an open, scalable and interoperable networking solution and supporting ecosystem of developers, integrators, and users.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Open-Source AMDGPU and ATI Graphics Drivers Get Linux 5.0 and Mesa 19.0 Support

        The xf86-video-amdgpu 19.0 and xf86-video-ati 19.0 series are now available for Linux users utilizing AMD Radeon GPUs, adding support for up to 6 independent instances per graphics card in “Zaphod” style multi-head configurations, as well as a more robust TearFree feature, which received several enhancements.

        xf86-video-amdgpu 19.0, the X.Org display driver for AMD Radeon GPUs, also adds support for FreeSync variable refresh rates, which requires the AMDGPU driver from the latest Linux 5.0 kernel series and the RadeonSI driver from the new Mesa 19.0 graphics stack, as well as support for scanout buffers through DCC color compression.

      • GSoC 2019 Could Bring Work On A Vulkan GPU Driver Settings Utility, OpenMAX Additions

        The X.Org Foundation is once again participating in the Google Summer of Code where student developers engage with various open-source efforts on a range of projects. If there are interested and capable participants, GSoC 2019 could bring a Vulkan settings/preferences user-interface for the Mesa drivers, new OpenMAX acceleration bits, and other possible initiatives.

        The student application period began yesterday for Google Summer of Code 2019 and runs through 9 April while the accepted proposals will be announced in early May. The X.Org/Mesa/Wayland developers are currently being solicited for ideas.

  • Applications

    • What is your favorite screen recording tool for Linux?

      When I teach programming classes, I find my students learn better when I include screen captures in my teaching materials. By showing step-by-step details using a digital projector, my students can visualize how the application works, making it quicker and easier for them to understand what I’m trying to explain.

      When I was preparing materials for a Python class I recently taught to middle schoolers, I started wondering about the best screen-capture and screencasting applications for Linux, including which ones readers prefer. First, I asked my fellow Opensource.com Community Moderators for recommendations.

    • Todo.txt – Manages Your Todo Tasks from Linux Terminal

      Todo.txt (todo.txt-cli) is an easy and extensible shell script for managing your todo.txt file. It allows you to add todos, list added todos, mark an entry as done, appends text to existing lines, and remove duplicate lines from todo.txt all from the Linux command line.

      It also supports archiving (moves all done tasks from todo.txt to done.txt and removes blank lines), de-prioritizing (removes the priority) from the task(s) and so much more.

      Todo.txt-cli is part of the todo.txt apps which are minimal, open source and cross-platform, todo.txt-focused editors which assist you manage your tasks with a few keystrokes and taps possible. Todo.txt CLI and Todo.txt Touch are built for CLI, iOS, and Android.

    • Daniel Stenberg: curl goes 180

      The 180th public curl release is a patch release: 7.64.1. There’s been 49 days since 7.64.0 shipped. The first release since our 21st birthday last week.

    • QEMU 4.0.0-rc1 is now available

      On behalf of the QEMU Team, I’d like to announce the availability of the second release candidate for the QEMU 4.0 release. This release is meant for testing purposes and should not be used in a production environment.

    • QEMU 4.0-RC1 Released – Packing Many Arm Improvements, EDID, Faster Crypto

      QEMU 4.0-RC1 was released today as the second test release for this forthcoming feature update to this important component of the open-source Linux virtualization stack.

      QEMU 4.0 has been a very busy cycle with working on EDID display support, support for many new Arm extensions, new MIPS CPU support, several additions on the RISC-V open-source processor ISA front, the x86 HAX accelerator now works for non-Darwin POSIX hosts like Linux and NetBSD, TPM enhancements, multiple threads for encryption/description with block storage encryption back-ends, TCG code generation improvements, and a range of other improvements.

    • Lyrics – Display Synchronized Song Lyrics on Media Players

      Every music lover likes to be able to access the lyrics of the songs they play because they would want to learn the words, sing along, or just clarify some phrases. Last time, I wrote about MusixMatch and Instant Lyrics, and today I’m introducing a nice alternative that goes by the simple name of Lyrics.

      Lyrics is a free open source lightweight floating application that displays lyrics of any media player that supports MPRIS-2. It is able to display the lyrics of any song you’re listening to by querying the track’s details using the MPRIS protocol, searching for and downloading its lyric file after which it displays the lyrics in a synced auto-scrolling mode.

      Lyrics features a simple UI with the options for using night mode and setting your theme and you can use it with YouTube in any Chromium-based browser that has the browser-playerctl extension installed.

    • Linux Release Roundup: Applications and Distros Released This Week

      This is a continually updated article that lists various Linux distribution and Linux-related application releases of the week.

      At It’s FOSS, we try to provide you with all the major happenings of the Linux and Open Source world. But it’s not always possible to cover all the news, specially the minor releases of a popular application or a distribution.

      Hence, I have created this page, which I’ll be continually updating with the links and short snippets of the new releases of the current week. Eventually, I’ll remove releases older than 2 weeks from the page.

      This page will be visible on It’s FOSS homepage. You can also bookmark it, if you want so that you can see what’s new in Linux world this week.

      If you come across interesting new release that is not listed here, please let me know and I’ll add it.

    • Proprietary

      • Vivaldi 2.4 Released with Multiple User Profiles, New Customization Options

        Vivaldi 2.4 is now available for download on Linux, Windows, and macOS with an impressive lineup of new features, including support for multiple user profiles.

        First and foremost, the number one highlight in this release is a new customization option for toolbars. Beginning with version 2.4, Vivaldi users can simply drag buttons between select toolbars to further tweak the interface of the browser, thus making sure it matches their expectations.

        You can even reposition the reload and the back buttons, so you can basically configure Vivaldi to look just the way you want.

      • Asus Goes Mute As Hackers Covertly Install Backdoors Using Company Software Update

        According to Kaspersky, over 57,000 Kaspersky users have downloaded and installed the backdoored version of ASUS Live Update at some point in time. And while Symantec has confirmed the problem and stated it found 13,000 computers infected with the backdoor, Kaspersky estimates the total number of impacted PC users could be as high as a million.

        For its part, Asus isn’t helping matters by going entirely mute on the subject. Motherboard was the first to report on the hack (in turn prompting Kaspersky’s acknowledgement). But Asus apparently thought that silence was a better idea than owning the problem, confirming the data discovered by researchers, or quickly and accurately informing the company’s subscribers…

      • Apple and Samsung Sued in Italy for Intentionally Slowing Older Devices

        Have you ever been using you’re an older smartphone and thought, man, this phone used to work so much better? Somehow, over the three years you’ve owned your phone, its operating system has slowed significantly, and it won’t work as quickly as it used to. If so, an Italian government regulatory agency may have the answer to your concerns.

        As the BBC News reported in October 2018, Apple and Samsung have been sued in Italy for intentionally slowing their older devices in an apparent move to incentivize customers to buy newer models, according to the regulatory agency, the Italian Competition Authority. Apple got slapped with a $10 million fine, and Samsung was fined $5 million. Samsung denied the accusations and said it were “disappointed.” According to the BBC, Apple got hit with a higher fine because it didn’t explain to users how to properly prolong their phones’ battery life.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • The Humble Hot Date Bundle is out with a number of Linux games included

        Not quite the bundle I was expecting, although I’m sure there’s plenty of people who will enjoy it. The Humble Hot Date Bundle has arrived!

      • Valve just released a big Steam Play update with Proton now based on Wine 4.2 & more

        This is quite an exciting release for Steam Play, as Valve just put out a brand new release of Proton.

        It moves the version of Wine used from 3.16 to 4.2 which includes a rather large set of improvements by itself, so it should have quite an interesting effect on what games are now playable.

        That wasn’t all, DXVK also saw a version bump so it’s now using 1.0.1 and FAudio too joined the party with it pulling in a newer build “19.03-13-gd07f69f”.

      • Valve Releases Proton 4.2 Based On Newer Wine Plus DXVK 1.0.1, Updated FAudio

        Valve today released Proton 4.2 as their latest update to this Wine-based software for further empowering Steam Play for running Windows games on Linux.

        Proton 4.2 is re-based on top of the upstream Wine 4.2 release, which offers a plethora of changes compared to their earlier Proton/Wine 3.16 based release. Proton 4.2 also pulls in DXVK 1.0.1, the newest FAudio 19.03-13 work, mouse cursor behavior improvements, improvements for CJK locales/fonts, Wine Vulkan 1.1 support, better support for VR games, and other improvements.

      • The arabian-themed cyberpunk rogue-lite FPS ’1001st Hyper Tower’ is out, not running well on Linux

        While I like the idea of 1001st Hyper Tower, the Linux version really isn’t running very well at all. The training seemed to be okay and everything was pretty normal. Well, as normal as the incredible bizarre world in 1001st Hyper Tower is. Sadly though, once you get into the full game the performance is absolutely terribly. We’re talking often sub-30FPS and it’s just not playable.

        Performance isn’t the only problem. It seems to be using an older version of Unity, I can tell since in fullscreen the menu has no mouse-click input (but it works in windowed mode) which was a common bug quite some time ago that was fixed in the Unity game engine.

      • Sekiro Shadows Die Twice | Linux Gaming | Ubuntu 18.04 | Steam Play

        Sekiro Shadows Die Twice running through Steam play.

      • Display a power indicator above the player head

        Hello and it has been a very long time I am not posting anything on this website and today I am just going to finish up the unfinished business from the previous python project, which is to display a power indicator above the player head to show that the player is in full power after he has eaten the mana during the game, if he collides with the enemy then that power will be used up and the power indicator will disappear. I am using the self.weak switch to indicate whether the player has eaten a mana or is he collides with an enemy. In this example, we will only edit one file, which is the boy sprite class.

      • Canonical Announces Full Enterprise Support for Kubernetes 1.14, Critical Security Update for Mozilla Thunderbird, Feral Interactive Releasing DiRT 4 for Linux March 28, Telegram Messaging Announces New Privacy Feature and Scalyr Launches PowerQueries

        Feral Interactive announces that DiRT 4 will be released for Linux and macOS on March 28th. DiRT was originally developed and published by Codemasters for PC and consoles. From the press release, “DiRT 4 delivers the intense thrill of all-terrain motorsport in an electrifying mix of disciplines. Players will hurtle through point-to-point Rally races, compete in events from the official FIA World Rallycross Championship, push trucks and buggies to the limit in exhilarating Landrush battles, and put their precision steering skills to the test in Joyride challenges.” You can view the trailer here and preorder from the Feral Store for $59.99.

      • No Man’s Sky runs very nicely on Linux with Steam Play, huge online feature update and VR support coming

        No Man’s Sky from Hello Games had a pretty iffy launch, with many not happy with it but Hello Games stuck at it and continued expanding it. They’ve announced more huge free updates coming and it works very well on Linux with Steam Play.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • Sway – Tiling Window Manager Specially Crafted for Wayland

      A tiling window manager is a windows manager that organizes applications into a series of frames across the screen. These frames do not overlap, like the desktops that you are used to. Stacking windows managers, on the other hand, allow the applications to overlap. Such windows managers include Fluxbox and Openbox.

      For example, when you boot into a tiling window manager, you will see a blank screen (probably with a wallpaper). When you open your first application (say Firefox), it will take up the whole screen. Next, you open a terminal and a file manager. The frame that your first application is using will shrink to make room for the two new applications. You can have the frames for the terminal and a file manager take up the right third of the screen and stack on top of one another.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Plasma 5.16 Desktop Promises AppImage Improvements in Plasma Discover, More

        Thanks to work done by KDE developers Aleix Pol Gonzalez and Nate Graham, the Plasma Discover graphical package manager will get quite some improvements in the upcoming KDE Plasma 5.16 desktop environment, including a major usability overhaul of the Updates page to remove downloaded apps from the view after they’ve been installed and show distinct “downloading” and “installing” phases.

        Moreover, Plasma Discover will now display a busy indicator when checking for updates, as well as a real progress bar for the tasks completion indicator. The support for AppImage universal binary files has been updated as well, as Plasma Discover will now display AppImage apps from Opendesktop.org in the correct category, thanks to work done by developer Dan Leinir Turthra Jensen.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • See GNOME 3.32 on Ubuntu 19.04 Beta

        Although the 19.04 is still not officially released this March, but even today we can download the development version and run it (LiveCD) on our computer. We find that it includes the 3.32, the latest version of GNOME desktop environment. I want to highlight some interesting aspects of it on Ubuntu as we saw it on Fedora Rawhide few days ago. I suggest you to download the 19.04 daily-live ISO and quickly test it, I believe you can feel the performance improvements especially how quick it’s now to open the start menu and it’s now even quicker to search files on Nautilus. Here we go. Happy testing!

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • 4MLinux 29.0 BETA released.

        4MLinux 29.0 BETA is ready for testing. Basically, at this stage of development, 4MLinux BETA has the same features as 4MLinux STABLE, but it provides a huge number of updated packages.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • SUSECON 2019 “MY KIND OF OPEN” Nashville, TN April 1-5

        I am really excited about next week. I will be attending my first SUSECON and it’s in one of my favorite places, Nashville Tennessee. If you haven’t registered yet you still have time. Come join us so you can lead your company into a digital transformation by learning how to utilize open source solutions that meet your business needs. There will be over 150 sessions to choose from, lots of hands-on training, demos led by our experts, and you can even earn complimentary SUSE certifications. For me personally, it’s all about software-defined storage and specifically SUSE Enterprise Storage. We will have a kiosk in the Technology Showcase demonstrating the latest features of SUSE Enterprise Storage. There are several sessions dedicated to SUSE Enterprise Storage and you can even listen to Sanjeet Singh and Me deliver a session on SUSE Storage Solutions (Session ID: BOV1443). There is a lot more so I highly recommend that you click here to learn more about SUSECON, get registered, and get ready for a great week with SUSE, the open, open source company. I hope to see you there.

      • SUSECON 2019: There’s Still Time!

        Don’t let SUSECON pass you by–you’ll wait a year if you do, and technology doesn’t wait. Join your open source peers in Nashville, get insights on how to maximize your IT infrastructure, and move forward with confidence into the future.

      • Aurora – A New Dawn in Exascale Computing

        Recently, Argonne National Laboratory and DOE announced the first exascale Cray supercomputer to be built in the U.S. It will run Cray Linux Environment, a derivative of SUSE Linux Enterprise High Performance Computing.

      • Digital Transformation is Hard, Let Global Services Make IT Easy!
    • Anaconda/Python

      • Anaconda Enterprise 5.3 Release

        The Anaconda Product Team has released Anaconda Enterprise 5.3, an upgrade focused on platform stability and reliability to support our customers’ needs for continuous innovation.

    • Fedora

      • Setting kernel command line arguments with Fedora 30

        Adding options to the kernel command line is a common task when debugging or experimenting with the kernel. The upcoming Fedora 30 release made a change to use Bootloader Spec (BLS). Depending on how you are used to modifying kernel command line options, your workflow may now change. Read on for more information.

      • Fedora’s Mesa Drivers Have Been Running Slower As They Were Accidentally Debug Builds

        It turns out Fedora 29′s Mesa 19.0 packages have recently been shipping in a “debug” mode since they switched to using the Meson build system and that has been leading to slower performance.

        As is generally the case when building in a “debug” mode, various assertions and other extra validation paths are exposed and that can greatly influence the performance of the resulting binaries in code-bases like Mesa and their OpenGL/Vulkan drivers. Fedora 29 has mistakenly been shipping their production Mesa packages under a debug build when using the Meson build system.

    • Debian Family

      • Raphaël Hertzog: Freexian’s report about Debian Long Term Support, February 2019

        Like each month, here comes a report about the work of paid contributors to Debian LTS.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu Touch Q&A 46

            There have been some advances in the core apps. Calendar has had a big update with a major tabs update. Christian did a lot on that. @cibersheep has done work on dark themes. Both Weather and OpenStore apps have had big translation updates.

            Translation is still quite complicated and still not working perfectly, so can be a bit slow.

            Sardinian users are struggling because core language packs from Canonical are not available. We have solutions in mind but those are still for the future. We will workaround meanwhile as best we can.

            If someone wants to do some work on language packs that would be extremely useful. It is more of a library skill, not overly technical.

            Jan has implemented a large number of javascript edits to the UBports installer. We are now down from 400 open issues to 70 but that understates progress because most of the 70 are new ones, which grew out of the changes. Everything now works way better on all platforms.

            There are still some refinements needed to make the installer really first class. It is the area of UBports where javascript is most used, so if that is your skill, please get in touch!

          • UBports Ubuntu Touch Continues Pursuing Mir/Unity8, Broad Device Support

            Ubuntu Touch OTA-8 was released earlier this month while the UBports community developers continue working to further along this Ubuntu-based mobile Linux OS.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Ubuntu Studio to Remain Officially Recognized Ubuntu Flavor

              During a meeting of the Ubuntu Developer Membership Board on March 11, 2019, two Ubuntu Studio developers, Council Chair Erich Eickmeyer and Council Member Ross Gammon, successfully applied for and received upload rights to Ubuntu Studio’s core packages, fulfilling the requirements prescribed in https://wiki.ubuntu.com/RecognizedFlavors.

              We would like to thank the community for staying with us through this uncertain time, and thank the Ubuntu Developer Membership Board for approving Erich and Ross’s applications.

            • Ubuntu Studio Will Be Sticking Around As An Official Ubuntu Flavor

              Earlier this month we wrote about the quandary Ubuntu Studio was in, the flavor of Ubuntu shipping with multimedia production and content creation software: none of their active developers had upload rights for updating packages. Fortunately, that situation has now been resolved.

              During this month’s Ubuntu Developer Membership Board meeting, two Ubuntu Studio developers were granted upload rights to Ubuntu Studio’s core packages. Confirmation was posted to UbuntuStudio.org and that the distribution will now be allowed to stick around as an official Ubuntu flavor/spin.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Jonathan Riddell: Nominations Open for UK Open Source Awards

    The UK Open Source Awards will be a day of celebration of all things Free and open with software. Open Source is now essential in how the world works. It creates freedom (that’s the Free Software side), helps education (I only learnt how to program from reading source code to KDE apps), allows cooperation across industries, gives a competitive advantage, encourages sharing and reuse, improves security and builds community. So it’s worth a day of celebration and recognition.

    This is the sixth UK Open Source Awards and it takes place in Edinburgh on Wednesday 12 June 2019. There will be talks, a panel, a keynote from Frank Karlitscheck and then the award ceremony.

    Nominations are now open for the awards, please consider which people or organisations based in the UK deserve special recognition.

  • Events

    • [kdenlive] Sprint 2019 in Lyon

      After four days, we had committed 85 fixes and implemented some new and old features (such as the one-click effect). The team had a great time despite the long hours we spent working. The sprint boosted our team spirit, and we were very productive.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Addons Blog: Extensions in Firefox 67

        There are a couple of major changes coming to Firefox. One is in the current Beta 67 release, while the other in the Nightly 68 release, but is covered here as an early preview for extension developers.

      • Firefox 66.0.2 Now Available for Download

        Mozilla has just released a new Firefox update, only a few days after the company previously published another version to address a couple of security vulnerabilities.

        Firefox 66.0.2, however, comes with no release notes, as Mozilla has just published the new version on its FTP server to begin serving the downloads. However, further information on what’s been changed in the update should be provided later today.

        Nevertheless, unless Mozilla introduces further security improvements, this browser version should be all about fixing bugs under the hood, so there’s a good chance you won’t notice any difference after installing it. Obviously, you’re still recommended to install it to get all these latest refinements.

      • Mozilla’s Firefox Lockbox To Store Passwords Now On Android

        The Firefox Lockbox password manager app allows users to securely store passwords, which are already stored in the Mozilla Firefox browser. Therefore, a downside appears; it doesn’t let users add new passwords or delete the existing ones.

      • Firefox Lockbox Now on Android, Keeping your Passwords Safe

        If you’re like most Firefox users, you have dozens if not hundreds of stored logins in your browser. When you use Firefox Accounts you get to take your logins on the web in Firefox Mobile. Today, many of those logins are the same ones used in the apps you download on mobile, so we’ve been working on making your various online identities work on your terms.

        Today, we are excited to bring Firefox Lockbox to Android users, a secure app that keeps people’s passwords with them wherever they go.

  • LibreOffice

  • CMS

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Why We Need Our Nonprofits

      SPARC was at best a relatively small success. But RISC did succeed, massively, with ARM (which stands for Advanced RISC Machine). ARM started as the Acorn RISC Machine in 1983. Today, most of the world’s mobile devices run ARM chips.

      I don’t know how well the CHIPS Alliance will do, but I do know that only an entity big and experienced enough to pull giant competing companies together can do it. For Linux, that’s the Linux Foundation. I’m glad we have it.

      I’m also glad we have the Software Freedom Conservancy. Times are getting tough for FLOSS, and we need all the help we can get.

  • Programming/Development

    • Next C++ workshop: Pointers and Linked Lists, 28 March at 19:00 UTC

      Another workshop is coming up! Improve your C++ skills with the help of LibreOffice developers: we’re running regular workshops which focus on a specific topic, and are accompanied by a real-time IRC meeting. For the next one, the topics are Pointers and Linked Lists. Start by watching this presentation:

    • Python programming language: Pyboard D-series arrives for MicroPython robots

      The new Pyboard D-series micro-controller is now available for purchase at a rather hefty price of £43 ($56), offering developers a low-powered device for running programs created with MicroPython, a stripped-back version of the hugely popular Python 3 programming language.

    • Commenting Python Code

      Programming reflects your way of thinking in order to describe the single steps that you took to solve a problem using a computer. Commenting your code helps explain your thought process, and helps you and others to understand later on the intention of your code. This allows you to more easily find errors, to fix them, to improve the code later on, and to reuse it in other applications as well.

      Commenting is important to all kinds of projects, no matter whether they are – small, medium, or rather large. It is an essential part of your workflow, and is seen as good practice for developers. Without comments, things can get confusing, real fast. In this article we will explain the various methods of commenting Python supports, and how it can be used to automatically create documentation for your code using the so-called module-level docstrings.

    • Documenting Python Projects With Sphinx and Read The Docs
    • Django Migrations 101
    • PyCoder’s Weekly: Issue #361 (March 26, 2019)
    • MongoDB connections
    • Alibaba Dragonwell8 : The In-house OpenJDK Implementation At Alibaba

      Alibaba requires no introduction. It is one of the popular and largest multinational conglomerate founded by Jack Ma, a business magnate and philanthropist from China. It is also world’s fifth-largest internet company by revenue. It specializes in various sectors such as e-commerce, retail, Internet and technology. Alibaba team has provided significant contribution to open source projects. One such project is OpenJDK. The development team at Alibaba has developed many Java-based applications over the years. They have adopted OpenJDK and created their own JDK named “Alibaba Dragonwell8”. It is the downstream version of OpenJDK and completely open source.

      Alibaba Dragonwell is optimized for developing e-commerce, financial, logistics applications which are running on their 100k+ servers. It is certified as compatible with the Java SE standard. It is currently supports Linux/x86_64 platform only. Let us hope they will extend the support to Unix and other platforms soon. In this guide, we will see how to install Alibaba Dragonwell8 in Linux. I have tested this guide on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS server. However, it should work on other Linux distributions as well.

Leftovers

  • Hardware

    • Eulogy for a 13-Year-Old Display

      I was working for the Department of National Defence in Canada (specifically Defence Research and Development Canada) in early 2005 when I first plugged in my new xplio CM998 monitor. It was amazing.

      Not only was it one of those new lightweight LCD monitors (I have since owned desks that weigh less), it supported resolutions up to 1280×1024 pixels natively and had both DVI and VGA ports!

      It also generated enough heat in my basement apartment that I could notice it from across the room, but that was a plus in that cold Scarborough winter.

      From there I moved it to an apartment. Another apartment. A home. And then another home. And then, finally, when I had stopped using it at home I started using it at work for Mozilla.

      I liked its comfortable 5:4 aspect ratio, and the fact it wouldn’t wobble when I got up to get coffee.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • States Push For Caregiver Tax Credits

      Gloria Brown didn’t get a good night’s sleep. Her husband, Arthur Brown, 79, has Alzheimer’s disease and had spent most of the night pacing their bedroom, opening and closing drawers, and putting on and taking off his jacket.

      So Gloria, 73, asked a friend to take Arthur out for a few hours one recent afternoon so she could grab a much-needed nap. She was lucky that day because she didn’t need to call upon the home health aide who comes to their house twice a week.

      The price of paying for help isn’t cheap: The going rate in the San Francisco Bay Area ranges from $25 to $35 an hour. Gloria Brown estimates she has spent roughly $72,000 on caregivers, medications and supplies since her husband was diagnosed four years ago.

      “The cost can be staggering,” said state Assemblyman Jim Patterson (R-Fresno), author of a bill that would give family caregivers in California a tax credit of up to $5,000 annually to help offset their expenses.

    • Department of Justice Pushes for Full Repeal of Affordable Care Act

      After failing to repeal the Affordable Care Act through the legislative process, the Trump administration signaled Monday that it is moving aggressively to scrap the law entirely in the courts—putting the healthcare of tens of millions of Americans at risk.

      In a legal filing as part of a Texas lawsuit led by Republican governors, the Trump Justice Department said it supports the complete repeal of the ACA, broadening its earlier position that only the law’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions should be invalidated.

      “Big shift in legal position from last year—with millions of lives in balance,” noted Politico‘s Dan Diamond.

    • Food Companies Are Making Their Products Addictive, and It’s Sickening (Literally)

      Can’t stop eating that bag of chips until you’re licking the salt nestled in the corners of the empty package from your fingers? You’re not alone. And it’s not entirely your fault that the intended final handful of chips was not, indeed, your last for that snacking session. Many common snack foods have been expertly engineered to keep us addicted, almost constantly craving more of whatever falsely satisfying manufactured treat is in front of us.

    • N.Y. County Bans Unvaccinated Kids in Public as Measles Spreads

      A county in New York City’s northern suburbs declared a state of emergency Tuesday over a measles outbreak that has infected more than 150 people since last fall, hoping a ban against unvaccinated children in public places wakes their parents to the seriousness of the problem.

      “It’s an attention grab, there’s no question about it,” Rockland County Executive Ed Day said at a news conference, noting that he didn’t believe such a drastic step has ever been tried in the U.S. before.

      Day said he was taking the action in hopes of reversing a recent uptick in cases amid disturbing reports that health workers were encountering resistance when investigating cases. Rockland’s outbreak has most heavily affected Orthodox Jewish communities, in which vaccination rates tend to be lower.

      Under the declaration, which lasts for at least 30 days, anyone under 18 who is not vaccinated against measles is barred from public gathering places, including shopping malls, civic centers, schools, restaurants and even houses of worship. Those in violation could be charged with a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail.

    • Medical Students Losing Dexterity to Perform Surgeries Due to Smartphone Usage and Lack of Creative, Hands-on Education

      Surgery students spend so much time swiping on flat, two-dimensional screens that they are losing the ability to perform simple tasks necessary to conduct life-saving operations, such as stitching and sewing up patients. As a result, students have become less competent and confident in using their hands—leading to very high exam grades despite a lack of tactile knowledge.

      Roger Kneebone, professor of surgical education at Imperial College, London, argues that two-dimensional flat screen activity is substituting for the direct experience of handling materials and developing physical skills. Such skills might once have been gained at school or at home, by cutting textiles, measuring ingredients, repairing something that’s broken, learning woodwork, or holding an instrument.

    • Family That Made Millions on Opioids Gave to Anti-Muslim Groups

      In March of 2018, a shower of pill bottles descended on The Temple of Dendur at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, labeled, as Hyperallergic reported, “prescribed to you by the Sackler family, major donors of the Met.” The Sackler family are the owners of Purdue Pharma, the makers of Oxy-Contin, often described as a key culprit in the opioid crisis, and the bottles were part of the first in a still-ongoing series of protests designed to raise awareness of how family members, who have donated millions to arts organizations across the world, have also benefited from the opioid crisis.

      Last week, art museums including the Guggenheim in New York and the Tate in London, announced they would no longer accept gifts from the Sacklers. Efforts by family members to paint themselves as arts philanthropists are well-known, but the Sacklers’ philanthropy had another less prominent beneficiary: anti-Muslim organizations.

      Richard Sackler first made his views known in 2008, Christopher Glazek pointed out in Esquire in 2017, when he “wrote a letter to the editor of The Wall Street Journal denouncing Muslim support for suicide bombing, a concern that seems to persist.” According to Esquire and Sludge’s reporting, the foundation donated to several anti-Muslim groups over a three-year period.

    • FDA Psilocybin Mushroom Study Could Help Millions with Treatment-Resistant Depression

      Treatment-resistant depression is a huge unmet need, affecting 100 million people around the world who do not respond to existing treatments. Depression is one of the fastest growing health problems and the leading cause of ill-health and disability worldwide. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given Compass Pathways, a life sciences company, “Breakthrough Therapy” approval to dose patients with psilocybin (psychedelic mushrooms) in the first large-scale psilocybin therapy clinical trial for treatment-resistant depression. The trials will take place in Europe and North America during 2019.

      The “Breakthrough Therapy” designation is a program designed to expedite the approval process for drugs that have proved promising in treating serious conditions. If the FDA approves psilocybin as a medicine, the drug will be removed from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, which is supposed to be reserved for drugs that have no accepted medical use.

      Mushroom-based therapy was initially observed in patients suffering from alcoholism or cancer. The study showed to have a long-term impact on people; one treatment completely reduced depression and anxiety scores, from people being very clinical to reaching remission. Six months later, 60-70% of people are in remission from a single treatment.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • What You Need to Know About the LockerGoga Ransomware

      Trend Micro’s solutions, such as Trend Micro™ Security, Smart Protection Suites, and Worry-Free™ Business Security, actively detect and block LockerGoga. Trend Micro detects the ransomware and its variants as Ransom.Win32.LOCKERGOGA.THBOGAI, Ransom.Win32.LOCKERGOGA.AA, and Ransom.Win64.LOCKERGOGA.A. Our in-depth analysis of LockerGoga is still ongoing, and we will update this FAQ as we uncover more details on this threat.

      [...]

      LockerGoga encrypts files stored on systems such as desktops, laptops, and servers. Each time LockerGoga encrypts a file, a registry key (HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\RestartManager\Session00{01-20}) is modified. After the encryption process, LockerGoga leaves a ransom note in a text file (README_LOCKED.txt) in the desktop folder.

    • LockerGoga: The Dangerously Changing Face Of Ransomware

      Ransomware is a type of malware which encrypts the user’s file until he/she does not hand over a designated sum of ransom. However, the recent iteration of the infamous malware known as LockerGoga Ransomware could have catastrophic effects in the digital as well as physical space.

      The first instance of the dangerous LockerGoga ransomware surfaced in January 2019. Hackers attacked a French consultancy company by the name of Altran Technologies. The attack rendered the company’s firewall disabled and closed down it’s IT network.

    • Scanner NetBIOS Auxiliary Modules

      The nbname auxiliary module scans a range of hosts and determines their hostnames via NetBIOS.

    • Essential System Tools: VeraCrypt – Strong disk encryption software

      This is the latest in our series of articles highlighting essential system tools. These are small, indispensable utilities, useful for system administrators as well as regular users of Linux based systems. The series examines both graphical and text based open source utilities. For details of all tools in this series, please check the table at the summary page of this article.

      For this article, we’ll look at VeraCrypt, free and open source cross-platform disk encryption software that builds on the discontinued TrueCrypt. There’s support for Linux, FreeBSD, Mac OS X, and Windows. VeraCrypt adds enhanced security to the algorithms used for system and partitions encryption. It also resolves many vulnerabilities and security issues inherent in TrueCrypt together with a ton of modifications.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • U.S. Recognition of Israel’s Golan Annexation a Threat to World Order

      The Trump Administration’s decision to recognize Israel’s illegal annexation of the Golan Heights—Syrian territory seized in the June 1967 war—marks a serious violation of fundamental principles of international law. The inadmissibility of any country expanding its territory by force is a longstanding principle of the international legal order, enshrined in the United Nations Charter, U.N. Security Council resolutions, and repeatedly confirmed by the International Court of Justice.

      Following its conquest of the Golan region, Israeli forces drove out most of its residents in what has accurately been called ethnic cleansing. The Druze inhabitants of the five remaining villages suffered under years of Israeli military occupation and largely remain loyal to Syria. Protests immediately broke out following Trump’s announcement. When Israel tried to impose its laws on the region in 1981, the Syrian Druze engaged in a successful nonviolent resistance campaign, blocking Israeli efforts to force them to carry Israeli ID cards, conscript them into the Israeli military, and other efforts to incorporate them into Israel.

      In response to Israel’s attempted annexation, the U.N. Security Council in 1981 unanimously adopted, with the support of the United States, resolution 497, which declared that “the Israeli decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction, and administration in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights is null and void and without international legal effect.”

    • Turning Our Backs on Nuremberg

      If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

      The advent of sound recording deep-sixed this age-old thought experiment and offered a definitive answer: Yes!

      I’ve got another one for you, though: if you water-torture someone at a secure military compound and no one is around to see it, is it a war crime?

      Tricky, right?

      Well, what if someone does see it? And what if you admit to it — and to a criminal investigator, no less? And what if you add that you also used electrical torture, too? Is that, in fact, a war crime?

      More cut and dried, right?

      And what if criminal investigators identified 28 other members of your military unit as having beaten prisoners, tortured them with electric shocks, and water-boarded them? And what if 15 of them actually admitted to those acts? Is that, I ask you, a war crime?

      Some people are charged with, tried, or even convicted, of torture: Nazis, Ford Motor Company executives in Argentina, and high-ranking Guatemalan military officers, for example. But others aren’t.

      Years ago, when I investigated the particular set of crimes mentioned above that were carried out by U.S. military intelligence personnel in Vietnam, I found that only three of the soldiers involved were even punished. And by punished, I mean that the three received fines or reductions in rank. None served any prison time.

      One of the admitted torturers I spoke with was still unrepentant. He explained to me that, were he placed in the same situation again, he would do exactly the same things. And why wouldn’t he? You don’t find Americans in the dock at the International Criminal Court (ICC). But if the Trump administration has its way, as TomDispatch regular Rebecca Gordon reports so strikingly today, the ICC’s judges and prosecutors might be the ones who find themselves charged and — though it’s a stretch of the imagination — behind bars. And given what we know about the U.S. prison system, that might also mean finding themselves at risk of torture.

    • Venezuela, US Solidarity, and the Future of Socialism

      In the late 1990s and early 2000s popular forces in Latin America ushered in what came to be known as the pink tide, a hemispheric backlash against neoliberalism. Latin Americans succeeded in electing a diverse group of left-of-center leaders who advocated anti-neoliberal policies that ranged from limited income redistribution to more ambitious nationalization schemes. By the mid-2000s, with the Latin American right in seeming disarray, many observers located the region’s dynamism within the struggle between “two lefts”—a “good” left, personified by Lula of Brazil, and a “bad” left, represented most prominently by Chávez in Venezuela. Whereas Lula and the moderate left played by market rules, worked with opponents, and respected political systems, the more radical-populist left of Chávez openly mocked and challenged existing institutions, opponents, and property.

      What is striking, given all that was made of the differences between the paths and policies of the two lefts, is not only how remarkably similar the current violence, subversion of democracy, and devastating poverty are in both Brazil and Venezuela. It is how the two countries got from there to here, from relatively stable left-leaning governments that were able to reproduce themselves over time to a coup-like collapse orchestrated by a radical right that views even moderate reformers as enemies to be exterminated.

    • Democrats Ignore a Progressive Foreign Policy at Their Peril

      The 2020 election will not turn on global issues – and more’s the pity. After all, thanks to decades upon decades of accumulating executive power in an increasingly imperial presidency, it is in foreign affairs that the commander-in-chief possesses near dictatorial power. Conversely, in domestic policy, a hostile Congress can – just ask Barry Obama – effectively block most of a president’s agenda.

      Still, the vast majority of Americans don’t give a hoot about issues of war, peace, and international diplomacy. Why should they care? It’s not as though anything is asked of them as citizens. By cynically ditching the draft, Tricky Dick Nixon took the wind out of the sails of current and future antiwar movements, and permanently cleaved a gap between the U.S. people and their military. Mothers no longer lose sleep over their teenage sons serving their country and they – along with the rest of the family – quit caring about foreign policy. Such it is, and so it will be, that the 2020 presidential election is likely to be decided by “kitchen-table” affairs like healthcare, immigration, race, and taxes.

      Be that as it may, serious observers should pay plenty of attention to international strategy. First, because the occupant of the Oval Office makes policy almost unilaterally – including the decision of whether or not to end the human race with America’s suicidal nuclear button. Second, because 2020 is likely to be another close contest, turning on the votes of a few hundred thousand swing state voters. As such, Trump’s opponent will need to win every vote on every issue – including foreign affairs. What’s more, there are still some folks who genuinely care about a potential commander-in-chief’s international bonafides. So, while Dems can’t win the White House with foreign policy alone, they can lose it by ignoring these issues or – oh so typically – presenting a muddled overseas strategy.

      This is serious. Just in case there are any out there still underestimating Trump – I, for one, predict he’ll win in 2020 – make no mistake, he’s no pushover on foreign policy. Sure he doesn’t know much – but neither does the average voter. Nonetheless, Trump is no dope. He’s got the pulse of (white) voters across this country and senses that the populace is tired of spending blood and cash (but mostly its cash) on Mideast forever wars. In 2016, he (correctly) made Hillary”regime change” Clinton out to be the true hawk in the race. Trump, on the other hand, combined tough guy bravado (he’d “bomb the shit” out of ISIS) with earthy good sense (there’d be no more “stupid” Iraq invasions. And it worked.

    • Former Russian government minister is detained in embezzlement case

      The Federal Investigative Committee has launched a criminal case against Mikhail Abyzov, Russia’s former Open Government Affairs minister, on suspicion of embezzling 4 billion rubles ($62.2 million). According to the magazine RBC, Federal Security Service agents detained Abyzov on Tuesday.

    • Russia’s top government officials embroiled in criminal investigations over the past two decades

      On March 26, Russia’s Federal Investigative Committee launched a felony case against former Open Government Minister Mikhail Abyzov, accusing him and five accomplices of stealing 4 billion rubles ($62.2 million) from energy companies in the Novosibirsk region and hiding the money abroad. Abyzov is just one of several top government officials to fall afoul of law enforcement over the past two decades. The newspaper Kommersant remembered some others from cabinets past, and Meduza summarizes that list below.

    • Former Russian minister formally charged after accusations that he used his position to form a criminal group

      Former Open Government Minister Mikhail Abyzov has been charged with fraud and forming a criminal group. According to Russia’s Investigative Committee, Abyzov worked with five suspected accomplices from 2011 through 2014 to embezzle four billion rubles (more than $62 million) from two companies based in Novosibirsk Oblast, Regionalnye Elektricheskie Seti and Sibirskaia Energeticheskaia Kompania. The suspects allegedly transferred the money they received out of Russia. Section 3 of the statute under which Abyzov was charged, which penalizes forming criminal groups, allows for a prison sentence of up to 20 years.

    • Chagos and the Dark Soul of the British Labour Party

      Even if you think you know all about the Chagos story – an entire population forcibly removed from their island homeland at British gunpoint to make way for a US Air Force nuclear base, the people dumped destitute over a thousand miles away, their domestic animals gassed by the British army, their homes fired and demolished – then I beg you still to read this.

      This analysis shows there could be no more startling illustration of the operation of the brutal and ruthless British Establishment in an undisguisedly Imperialist cause, involving actions which all reasonable people can see are simply evil. It points out that many of the key immoralities were perpetrated by Labour governments, and that the notion that either Westminster democracy or the British “justice” system provides any protection against the most ruthless authoritarianism by the British state, is utterly baseless.

      Finally of course, there is the point that this is not only a historic injustice, but the injustice continues to the current day and continues to be actively promoted by the British state, to the extent that it is willing to take massive damage to its international standing and reputation in order to continue this heartless policy. This analysis is squarely based on the recent Opinion of the International Court of Justice.

    • “Hold Israel Accountable”: Palestinians Call on Int’l Community to Oppose Golan Heights Annexation

      Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in Washington on Monday to meet with President Trump, who signed an order officially recognizing Israel’s control of the Golan Heights in defiance of international law. We speak with Budour Hassan, a Palestinian writer and project coordinator for the Jerusalem Center for Legal Aid and Human Rights, and Jehad Abusalim, scholar and policy analyst from Gaza. He runs the Gaza Unlocked campaign for the United States for the American Friends Service Committee.

    • Death Brings On Death: Father of Sandy Hook Victim Another Apparent Suicide

      The toll rises: Dr. Jeremy Richman, neuro-pharmacologist, activist and still-grieving father of Avielle Richman, one of 20 first-grade children murdered at Sandy Hook along with six teachers, evidently killed himself Monday. His body was found at Newton’s Town Hall, home of the Avielle Foundation he and his wife Jennifer Hensel started just months after the death of their only child. Richman was CEO of the foundation, which seeks to “prevent violence through brain health research and fostering community”; he also lectured at Yale’s School of Medicine. Richman and his wife were among the Sandy Hook families who filed a lawsuit against Infowars thug Alex Jones, who claimed the massacre of their six-year-old daughter and so many other innocents was “a hoax.” Friends were stunned by his death, which Sen. Richard Blumenthal called “a gut punch,” and a painful sign of the “cascading” trauma of gun violence. “Our hearts are shattered, and our heads are struggling to comprehend,” said a Foundation statement. “We are crushed to pieces, but this important work will continue because, as Jeremy would say, we have to.”

      That hard truth was made achingly clear in recent days, which saw two more apparent suicides related to mass shootings in not much over a week. On March 17, Sydney Aiello, 19, a former Parkland student and best friend of one of the 17 victims there, took her own life; her mother said her daughter was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, struggled with survivor’s guilt, and had trouble attending college classes because she was afraid of being in a classroom. Days after her death, another Marjory Stoneman Douglas student, a sophomore who has not been named, also reportedly killed himself. The deaths have reverberated in still-reeling communities, with school and city officials striving to offer more mental health resources and other support, and experts stressing the devastating long-term effects of America’s gun carnage. Since Sandy Hook, an estimated 7,000 children have been killed by guns, many not in schools but at home; in the 20 years since Columbine, they say, at least 223,000 American students have been exposed to gun violence, with even more survivors and relatives traumatized.

    • Attackers behind assault on North Korean embassy fled to US via Portugal

      Judge José de la Mata, of Spain’s High Court (Audiencia Nacional), has lifted the seal on an investigation into the mysterious attack against the embassy, which is located in the upscale residential area of Aravaca.

      Court papers show that after speeding out of the embassy in luxury vehicles, the attackers broke up into four small groups and traveled to Lisbon, where they boarded an airplane bound for Newark, New Jersey.

      Seven of the 10 individuals have been identified, including their alleged leader, a man named Adrian Hong Chang who has Mexican citizenship but is a US resident. Five days after the Madrid incident, this man contacted the FBI to provide information about it.

      [...]

      Between February 20 and 22, four other members of the group, among them Ram Lee, a South Korean national, and Sam Ryu, a US citizen, bought additional material at a local hardware store, including shears, 33 rolls of double-sided tape, duct tape, pliers and a telescopic ladder.

      Armed with this equipment, at 4.34pm on February 22 the assailants drove to the embassy, where Hong Chang asked to see the business attaché, whom he already knew from an earlier visit when he had posed as a businessman.

      According to Judge De la Mata, Hong Chang took advantage of a moment of carelessness by embassy personnel to let his accomplices in. The group ran in with machetes, knives, lead bars and replica handguns, and “began violently hitting the occupants, until they were overpowered and immobilized with handcuffs and cable ties.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Unknown actors attempt to steal special communications cable near Kremlin

      A section of cable used for government communications has been stolen near the Kremlin, and those immediately responsible for the theft have been caught, wrote the news agency RBC. The cable was reported missing from a manifold near the Bolshoi Moskvoretsky bridge on March 25. On March 26, Federal Protective Service (FSO) representative Denis Simonov announced that the culprits had been “caught red-handed” at the scene.

    • Nevada Judge Says Online News Publications Aren’t Protected By The State’s Journalist Shield Law

      The internet has upended journalism. It’s no longer limited to long-established press outlets known for printing physical newspapers and periodicals. It can be performed by anyone, using a vast amount of resources, including search engines, public records requests, and the occasional application of shoe leather.

      The First Amendment provides protection to these endeavors. Except when it doesn’t. Well-meaning legislators seeking to protect journalists use older definitions of journalism to exclude bloggers and freelancers. Some judges make the same mistake as well, deciding the word “journalist” only covers people trafficking in ink and paper, rather than bits and pixels.

      This older definition was in play in a recent decision handed down by a Nevada judge. Rather than recognize that the intent of Nevada’s shield law is to protect journalists, Judge James Wilson decided the law only protects a narrow subset of those practicing the art of journalism.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • It’s Official: Climate Change Worsens Global Pollen Season

      A new paper just out in The Lancet Planetary Health provides the first global indication that recent temperature increases, propelled by climate change, are in fact contributing significantly to longer and more intense pollen seasons.

    • Ecological Civilization: Could China Become a Model for Saving the Earth?

      Industrialized agriculture is threatening humanity with catastrophe. It feeds global warming and dissolves societies. In addition, its pesticides contaminate and poison drinking water and food.

    • Climate Action Groups and Democrats Denounce McConnell’s ‘Sham Vote’ on Green New Deal

      Climate action groups joined Democratic senators Tuesday in condemning what one critic called a “cynical ploy” by Republican Party to bring the Green New Deal to a vote without any hearings or debate, in a naked attempt to divide the Democratic caucus.

      The Senate was scheduled to vote on the resolution at 4:00pm Tuesday, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (D-Ky.) openly stating his intention with the vote on Twitter.

      The vote will allow the public to “see which senators are so fully committed to radical left-wing ideology that they can’t even vote ‘no’ on self-inflicted economic ruin that would take a sledgehammer to America’s middle class,” McConnell wrote.

    • Trump Interior Nominee David Bernhardt Is the Swamp

      In October 2016, candidate Donald Trump unveiled a package of government ethics reforms that he said would “drain the swamp” in Washington, DC; it included a ban on former federal employees lobbying the government for five years and stricter rules on what constitutes lobbying. He seemed to be promising to undermine the power of special interest lobbyists and restore government to the people.

      But Trump’s every move since being elected has been in the opposite direction. A former coal lobbyist, Andrew Wheeler, runs the Environmental Protection Agency; an ex-pharmaceutical lobbyist, Alex Azar, runs Health and Human Services; former for-profit college lobbyists control policy at Betsy DeVos’s Department of Education; and much more. On issue after issue, from weakening protections against toxic pollution, to undermining access to health care, to giving tax advantages to the rich, the administration has sided with wealthy interests over working people.

      This Thursday the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing to consider Trump’s nomination of another former industry lobbyist, David Bernhardt, to be Secretary of the Interior.

      Bernhardt, currently the Department’s acting secretary and deputy secretary, would replace Ryan Zinke, whose reign was characterized by troubling conflicts of interest, paired with an extraordinarily audacious sense of entitlement and self-aggrandizement.

    • Global Carbon Emissions Reached Record High in 2018

      Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions hit a record high in 2018, the latest report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) found. Emissions rose 1.7 percent to reach a historic 33.1 gigatons (Gt) of carbon dioxide. It was the highest rate of emissions growth since 2013 and 70 percent higher than the average increase since 2010.

      The record emissions were caused by increasing energy demand due partly to a growing economy. Ironically, climate change also played a role in sending more global warming gasses into the atmosphere. That is because nearly a fifth of the increased energy demand was driven by extreme cold and hot temperatures around the world that led people to rely more on heating and cooling systems.

      “It seems like a vicious cycle,” IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol told The Financial Times. “Heating and cooling are one of the biggest drivers of energy demand growth.”

    • Recording Reveals Oil Industry Executives Laughing at Trump Access

      Gathered for a private meeting at a beachside Ritz-Carlton in Southern California, the oil executives were celebrating a colleague’s sudden rise. David Bernhardt, their former lawyer, had been appointed by President Donald Trump to the powerful No. 2 spot at the Department of the Interior.

      Just five months into the Trump era, the energy developers who make up the Independent Petroleum Association of America, or IPAA, already had watched the new president order a sweeping overhaul of environmental regulations that were cutting into their bottom lines — rules concerning smog, hydraulic fracturing and endangered species protection.

      Dan Naatz, the association’s political director, told the audience of about 100 executives that Bernhardt’s new role meant their priorities would be heard at the highest levels of the department.

      “We know him very well, and we have direct access to him, have conversations with him about issues ranging from federal land access to endangered species, to a lot of issues,” Naatz said, according to an hourlong recording of the June 2017 event in Laguna Niguel provided to Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting.

      The recording gives a rare look behind the curtain of an influential oil industry lobbying group that spends more than $1 million per year to push its agenda in Congress and federal regulatory agencies. The previous eight years had been dispiriting for the industry: As IPAA vice president Jeff Eshelman told the group, it had seemed as though the Obama administration and environmental groups had put together “their target list of everything that they wanted done to shut down the oil and gas industry.”

    • America Enters ‘Coal Cost Crossover’ as Solar and Wind Are Now Cheaper for Most Households

      In propping up the coal industry, the Trump administration is not only contributing to dangerous pollution, fossil fuel emissions and the climate crisis, it is also now clinging to a far more expensive energy production model than renewable energy offers.

      That’s according to a new report from renewable energy analysis firm Energy Innovation, showing that about three-quarters of power produced by the nation’s remaining coal plants is more expensive for American households than renewables including wind, solar and hydro power.

      Energy Innovation based its study on companies’ financial filings data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). It found that coal has become more expensive as maintenance and anti-pollution compliance costs have risen, while technological advances have made solar and wind power cheaper.

    • Caroline Lucas and Clive Lewis table Green New Deal Bill

      Labour’s Shadow Treasury Minister Clive Lewis and Green Party MP Caroline Lucas will today table a Private Members’ Bill that would force the Government to enact a ‘Green New Deal’.

      The ‘Decarbonisation and Economic Strategy Bill’ would place duties on ministers to introduce a radical 10-year strategy for public investment designed to decarbonise the economy and eradicate inequality. It would require ministers to empower communities and workers to transition from high-carbon to low and zero-carbon industries, introduce stricter environmental regulations and protect and restore natural habitats.

      Caroline co-founded the UK’s Green New Deal Group 10 years ago, and US Senator Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has recently reinvigorated the idea in the US. It takes its inspiration from Roosevelt’s New Deal of the 1930s, which used massive investment in jobs and infrastructure to pull the US out of the Great Depression.

      A Green New Deal would involve huge investment in clean energy, warm homes and affordable public transport – delivering a decent, well-paid job to everyone who wants one, and tackling climate change.

      Labour members recently launched a grassroots campaign called Labour for a Green New Deal, to encourage the party to adopt a similar policy.

      Today will be the first time a Bill designed to enact a Green New Deal has come before Parliament, and it is expected to gain cross-party support.

      It comes in the wake of this month’s global school strikes, which saw more than 50,000 young people join protests across the UK calling for action to tackle climate breakdown.

      Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said:

    • Plastic Pollution: Could We Have Solved the Problem Nearly 50 Years Ago?

      There’s plastic in seabirds, in the middle of the remote Pacific Ocean, even in people. It’s a challenge to turn to the news these days without reading or hearing the latest horror story about plastic pollution. These updates seem new and striking and scary, but in reality much of the fundamental information contained in these stories is actually far from fresh.

      “In the last five years there has been more published research on plastics than in the previous 50 years,” says Marcus Eriksen, 5 Gyres Institute cofounder and research director, who’s a well-known contemporary documentarian of microplastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and other parts of the oceans. “In the past the public did not get adequate information, or the right information, early enough to act.”

      The Revelator took a deep dive into reams of historic plastic pollution research and uncovered that much of what’s considered “new” today has actually been known by scientists for decades but was not well publicized in the popular media until recently.

      That delay in spreading the news about the threats of plastic came with a major cost. In the time since scientific research on plastic pollution was first published in the early 1970s, billions of metric tons of plastic waste has been tossed in landfills and accumulated in terrestrial and marine ecosystems — and in the bodies of countless people and animals.

    • ‘A Real Win-Win-Win’: New Report Reveals Benefits of $500 Billion Investment in Energy Efficiency

      While acknowledging scientists’ increasingly urgent warnings about the necessity of rapidly transitioning global energy systems away from fossil fuels in favor of clean renewables like solar and wind, the report focuses on the far-reaching and positive consequences of improving the energy efficiency of buildings across the country.

      Food & Water Watch lays out the impact of investing about $33.3 billion a year in a nationwide initiative from 2020 to 2035. That funding, along with “aggressive and robust energy efficiency policies,” would be complementary to broader efforts designed to curb planet-warming emissions and prevent climate catastrophe.

      Researchers found that “this substantial investment would reap dramatic economic benefits, create good jobs that foster a fair and just transition to clean energy, reduce energy use, and save money—all while reducing climate emissions.”

      Food & Water Watch executive director Wenonah Hauter tied the report’s recommendations to the national discussion about climate policies, including the Green New Deal resolution introduced earlier this year by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.).

      “With all the talk about a Green New Deal, one critical piece of any effective climate policy that has largely been left out of the conversation is energy efficiency,” Hauter said. “It is the low-hanging fruit in terms of technological feasibility and cost-benefit gain.”

    • Flash Floods in Iran Kill 19, Injure More Than 100

      At least 19 people have died and more than 100 have been injured in flash flooding in the south of Iran, the country’s semi-official Tasnim News Agency said. The city of Shiraz in Fars province was the worst hit by the flooding, which occurred after a month’s worth of rain fell in a few hours, CNN meteorologist Taylor Ward said.

    • Navajo Nation Won’t Buy Coal-Fired Plant

      The Navajo Nation has decided to stop pursuing the acquisition of a beleaguered coal-fired power plant in Arizona, locking in the plant to be taken offline and its associated coal mine to close later this year.

      A Navajo Nation Council committee voted 11-9 last week to stop pursuing the purchase of the 2,250-megawatt Navajo Generating Station, which with the Kayenta coal mine provides more than 800 jobs to primarily Navajo and Hopi workers as well as tribal royalties.

      A coalition of utilities that own the plant said in 2017 it would cease operations due to increased economic pressure, and the plant’s future has proved a flash point for national and regional energy policy and raised larger questions on how Native communities will handle ties to fossil fuel industries as the economy changes.

    • Senate Rejection of Green New Deal Won’t Slow Americans’ Desire for Climate Action

      The Republican-led Senate is poised to vote down, as early as Tuesday, a resolution laying out the broad ambitions of a Green New Deal, before the Congress, or the country, can even discuss its potential to help fight climate change. There’s more at stake, here, than a resolution. Republican leaders won’t admit we face a crisis they’re ignoring at our peril.

      GOP leaders like President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition – Dems look for traction following Barr-Mueller findings Senate GOP eyes probes into 2016 issues ‘swept under the rug’ Senate gears up for Green New Deal vote MORE are determined to block the clean energy transition we need to protect our families, communities and country from the rising costs and mounting dangers of global climate change. Their plan: protect the producers of the fossil fuels that are driving climate chaos – and leave our kids to pay the price.

    • ‘If This Guy Can Be Senator, You Can Do Anything’: Progressives Mock Mike Lee’s Climate Speech

      A Republican Senator tried to make light of the Green New Deal in a rambling floor speech that involved Ronald Reagan riding a dinosaur, the Sharknado, and Tauntauns.

      Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) told the Senate Tuesday that the proposed environmental legislation was not worth treating with respect.

      “After reading the Green New Deal, I am mostly afraid of not being able to get through this speech with a straight face,” Lee said. “For, Mr. President, I rise today to consider the Green New Deal with the level of seriousness it deserves.”

      Lee then proceeded, with props, to mock the Green New Deal, calling the proposed legislation “ridiculous” and asserting it would eliminate cows and planes (proponents of the legislation, including the writers of the bill, say this is not true).

  • Finance

    • Stephen Moore? Really?

      In late November of 2016, as then President Elect Trump began naming members of his cabinet, his White House staff, etc., John Cleese commented (brilliantly) that “it looks as though Trump is assembling the crew for a pirate ship.” Indeed.

      Steve Bannon, Michael Flynn, Betsy DeVos, Scott Pruitt, Stephen Miller, Kellyanne Conway, Steve Mnuchen, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions – each appointment more appalling than the last. A memorable moment of shock and awe for me: the recurring suggestion that we should feel “reassured” that Trump chose ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson – a man who had spent most of his life ravaging the planet from profit – as his Secretary of State. Trump’s Energy Secretary is Rick Perry, a lifelong lacky for Big Oil and, also, an idiot. Trump’s Secretary of the Interior is a former coal lobbyist. The list goes on and on.

    • New Challenges Bring New Militancy to Teacher Strikes

      The recent teacher strikes in the U.S. were galvanized in large part by anger over things, such as low wages, overcrowded classrooms and public school closures. Other vital issues have been outside curriculum interference, abysmal working conditions, health care and uncertain pensions.

      Historically, teachers have been undervalued and underpaid, from the days of Socrates to medieval monks to one-room schoolteachers. Wealthy and powerful leaders of antiquity relegated educating sons (rarely daughters) to well-read, often brilliant slaves. In medieval Europe, Catholic “cathedral-school” teachers were monks and priests costing the Church only room and board. They trained clergy, as well as preparing elitists’ sons for high positions in statecraft and commerce.

      When the ruling class expanded education outside monasteries, they boarded tutors who, while brilliant and competent, still were regarded as house servants who could be fired on a whim. It’s been a timeless disrespectful attitude that has come home to roost in the current uprisings in the U.S. — and going global — calling for change in how teachers are treated.

      The latest attack on teachers comes from President Trump, whose 2020 budget proposal slashes $7.1 billion from public education and kills funding for the federally required teachers’ professional development program.

      In the U.S., decades of such treatment have finally led to the rise of a militant teachers’ movement we see today.

    • How Wall Street Drives Gender and Race Pay Gaps

      Bonuses were down last year in the New York-based securities industry, according to just-released data from the New York State Comptroller. But the average end of year payout in this lucrative and overwhelmingly white and male sector is still dramatically higher than in decades past, while pay in low-wage jobs with greater workforce diversity has stagnated.

    • Auto Uprisings Down South: The 2019 Mexican Auto Workers Strike

      An estimated 70,000 workers are on strike in Matamoros, Mexico, according to reports by the Guardian, Labor Notes, the World Socialist Forum website, among other independent news outlets. The female-led movement protests the failed delivery of a wage increase promised by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. In addition to better wages, protesters seek new leadership within the labor union. The impact goes beyond Mexico’s borders. Factories at which workers no longer regularly clock in are branches of US-owned automotive companies. As a result, autos produced for US markets are at risk.

      Workers are demanding a twenty percent raise and an annual $32,000 peso bonus ($1,573 USD) for an improved quality of life. As of February, a total of 48 factories have conceded to striking workers’ demands. The current administration has not intervened to end protests, which encourages citizens to engage. Attorney and champion of the movement Susana Preto Terrazas live streams interviews with protestors through Facebook Live to reach an online audience of more than 75,000 people. The success seen in Matamoros is inspiring neighboring towns to do the same. Amendments made to the North American Free Trade Agreement go in effect in May, allowing workers to elect union leaders.

    • Brazil’s President Bolsonaro Poised to Launch New Era of Indigenous Exploitation

      Declaring that his election had freed Brazil from “socialism and political correctness,” the country’s newly inaugurated president, Jair Bolsonaro, moved quickly to enact policies that put Brazil’s indigenous people and its Amazonian rain forest in extreme peril. On his second day in office, January 2, 2019, Bolsonaro signed two controversial decrees—one that increased federal government oversight of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) operating in Brazil, and another that moved responsibility for protecting indigenous rights from FUNAI—the indigenous-affairs agency, which had historically limited farming and mining in indigenous territories by creating reserves that were off-limits to developers—to a newly created office in Brazil’s Ministry of Agriculture, under the guidance of an ultraconservative evangelical pastor, Damares Alves. As the Atlantic reported, the decrees meant that “the decades-long effort by Brazil’s indigenous populations to seek recognition and legal title to land has been foiled,” and the Atlantic noted that Bolsonaro boasted of the decrees on Twitter, “à la Donald Trump.”

      In February 2019, Al Jazeera reported that a newly issued study by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights found “a sharp uptick in attacks on indigenous people since Bolsonaro won the presidency in the October 2018 elections.” The same month, the Intercept published an article, by Sam Cowie, documenting Bolsonaro’s long history of opposing protection of indigenous lands and denigrating Brazil’s indigenous peoples. As Cowie reported, in 1998, Bolsonaro praised how the US cavalry had “decimated its Indians in the past and nowadays does not have this problem in their country.”

      Indigenous groups in Brazil have been under attack for more than five centuries as a result of excessive nationalism and increasing economic incentives to exploit natural resources left in the wake of the brutal attacks against indigenous people on lands protected as indigenous reserves.

    • Class Explains Millennials’ Stunted Economic Lives

      While pundits and politicians explain downward mobility among millennials in terms of the generation’s unrealistic expectations, indulgent spending, and antipathy toward adulthood, sociologist Victor Tan Chen explains that the Great Recession “stunted millennials’ economic lives at a critical age” and that class inequalities—not “lousy values”—best explain many millennials’ poor economic prospects. “Thanks in part to the country’s widening income gap,” Chen writes, “the picture of ‘how millennials are doing’ is dramatically different depending on which segment of the population you happen to be looking at.”

      Defining class by income and education, with the working class making less than the median household and not possessing a four-year degree, Chen cites research showing that millennials who lack college degrees are likelier to be renting than those with degrees, and that working-class young adults are less likely to change residences than their better-educated peers.

    • DeVos Defends $18 Million Cut to Special Olympics Funding While Asking Congress for $60 Million for Charter Schools

      Critics expressed shock and anger Tuesday after Education Secretary Betsy DeVos defended the Trump administration’s proposed budget, which cuts ten percent of her department’s overall funding—including huge cuts to the Special Olympics—while increasing funds private charter school.

      Appearing before a House subcommittee on appropriations for the Education Department, DeVos told lawmakers that the proposed budget “focuses on freedom for teachers, freedom for parents, freedom for all students.”

      While cutting funding $7 billion for public schools and other programs, DeVos and Trump’s budget calls for $60 million for charter schools—a long-time cause for the education secretary.

      “This budget in my view is cruel. It is reckless,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.)

      Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.) added in his questioning of DeVos that the administration appears to have no regard for the Americans who will be affected by the $18 million in cuts for the Special Olympics, which serve children and adults with disabilities.

      “Do you know how many kids are going to be affected by that cut?” Pocan asked. Unable to extract a straight answer from DeVos, the congressman cut her off as she repeated her refrain, “We had to make some difficult decisions with this budget.”

    • Jamie Dimon Laments the Plight of the Poor While His Bank Pays 0.02% on CDs

      JPMorgan Chase’s CEO, Jamie Dimon, gave a CNN interview last week in which he said that the U.S. economy is “fundamentally anti-poor.” Two weeks before that, Dimon boasted in an OpEd for CNN that was co-authored by his fellow Board Member, Mellody Hobson, that the bank was doing all kinds of wonderful things to address the wealth gap among African Americans in the U.S.

      Under Dimon’s tenure as top dog of JPMorgan Chase over the past 13 years, the bank has excelled at settling its crimes on the cheap, launching a big public relations offensive, then being charged with more crimes, settling on the cheap, and spending more on its public relations offensive to massage both the bank’s and Dimon’s reputation.

      Many of the charges against JPMorgan Chase relate directly to ripping off Americans who can least afford it. In 2011, the bank paid $35 million to settle claims that it had overcharged members of the military on their mortgages. The very next year, it paid the government $659 million in a settlement for overcharging veterans hidden fees in mortgage refinancing transactions. That same year the bank agreed to pay $110 million to settle claims that it overcharged customers for overdraft fees.

      In 2013, the bank settled a raft of charges over ripping off the poor or average American: the bank paid $410 million to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to settle claims of bidding manipulation of California and Midwest electricity markets. It also paid $22.1 million to settle claims that it had imposed expensive and unnecessary flood insurance on homeowners whose mortgages were being serviced by the bank. The bank agreed to pay $80 million in fines and $309 million in refunds to customers whom the bank billed for credit monitoring services that the bank never provided.

    • Honoring Frances Perkins, the ‘Mother’ of Social Securit

      In the iconic photo of Franklin D. Roosevelt signing the Social Security Act of 1935, the dignitaries crowded around the president stare intently at the legislation on his desk. Only one looks directly into the camera. She is the woman without whom we likely would not have Social Security today: Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins – alone in a sea of men, wearing a slim black dress with white buttons and a fashionable tricorn hat. Like other pioneering women from the first half of the 20th century, Perkins deserves to be honored before Women’s History Month 2019 ends.

      If FDR was the father of Social Security, the first-ever female Labor Secretary was the mother. Perkins coaxed, cajoled, and practically willed the program into being, undaunted by formidable obstacles (including the question of its very constitutionality). When Christopher Breiseth, former CEO of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute, asked Perkins to identify her proudest achievement toward the end of her life, she said without hesitation in her clipped and carefully cultivated Boston Brahmin accent: “Two words: Social Security.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Don’t Believe Trump or Barr. The Investigations Are Just Beginning.

      Trump’s blunderbuss tactics do not come without substantial risk, however. “Trump and his allies immediately reminded everyone how little respect this president has for democratic norms and set themselves up for political damage if the Mueller report doesn’t live up to their spin,” writes Jonathan Bernstein for Bloomberg News. “Instead of taking a win and building on it, Trump took all of one day to oversell it, increase the likelihood that more damaging information will be publicly released, and remind everyone that he’s still unfit for the office he holds.”

      That “damaging information” looms large in the hallways of offices like the US attorney for the Southern District of New York and the New York Department of Financial Services. Meanwhile, loud questions about the Mueller report itself – specifically regarding the counterintelligence portion dealing with various contacts between Trump’s people and Russian agents – will only be answered if and when the full report is made public. House Democrats have set a deadline of April 2 for its release, which Barr is unlikely (and probably unwilling) to meet.

      “[William Barr] put a little lipstick on something that might’ve been fairly ugly,” John Dean, former White House counsel to Nixon and expert on rogue presidents, told CNN’s Don Lemon. “We haven’t really seen the underlying report, but I have some suspicions that the reason he boiled this down the way he did is because it’s not very attractive, Don. [Mueller’s] words are very different than Barr’s, I suspect.”

    • The Mueller Report Was Never Going to Save Us. We Must Fight Collusion Ourselves.

      Emboldened by his attorney general’s summary of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s still-embargoed report, President Trump has shifted from his oft-repeated defense of “No collusion!” to an offensive against the investigation that he has always dismissed as a “witch hunt.”

      As the saying goes, it’s not the parts of the Bible I don’t understand that bother me; it’s the parts that I do. As we wait to learn what the Mueller report really says, we need a similar clarity: It’s not what we don’t know that should bother us, but what we do. Whether Trump and his enablers have broken any laws, they are clearly committed to using law to subvert the basic tenets of our social contract: the will of the people, the good of the whole and equal justice under the law.

    • Congress Should Begin Impeachment, But Not the Way You Think

      Tlaib has publicly committed to introducing articles of impeachment. But her position is extremely rare. Most members of Congress who have spoken of impeachment at all, and most media outlets, have for over two years insisted that Trump should be impeached if and only if the Mueller report proves that Trump worked with the Russian government to steal the 2016 election.

      Chair of the House Judiciary Committee Jerrold Nadler has called talk of impeachment “premature” and dependent on Russiagate, despite also admitting that Trump’s payoffs to silence mistresses are impeachable offenses, despite having proposed to “censure and condemn” Trump after Charlottesville, and despite having pursued the emoluments topic, on which many have argued that an overabundance of evidence is already public.

      Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has told the Washington Post that she is opposed to impeaching Trump because doing so would be “divisive,” and because the United States is “great” and not in any “perilous state,” but would be if Trump had a second term.

      “Among the most damaging words to our democracy during the Trump era,” RootsAction.org co-founder Jeff Cohen tells me, “have been these six words: ‘Let’s wait for the Mueller report.’ That strategy of the Democratic leadership — and the obsessive Mueller coverage in allied outlets like MSNBC and CNN — has dangerously narrowed public attention to the not-yet-proven charge of Russian collusion, while normalizing and marginalizing other more provable and impeachable Trump affronts to our Constitution. Imagine, for example, if even one-tenth of the attention lavished on Russiagate had been focused instead on Trump’s ongoing business corruption and his refusal to divest in the face of the Constitution’s requirement that a president not financially benefit from his office. While the public can readily understand greed and self-interest, exit polls in November showed few voters were moved by the Russia collusion issue. The ‘waiting for Mueller’ strategy has made little sense politically, or Constitutionally — and has pushed other Trump offenses to the impeachment sidelines: Muslim ban, racist incitement, infringements on the press, politicizing prosecutions, etc.”

    • Obama Pilloried for Playing the ‘How You Gonna Pay for It?’ Card on Progressive Agenda

      Former President Barack Obama on Monday night cautioned freshman members of the U.S. House against pushing for broadly popular, sweeping reforms by suggesting that voters will reject progressive policies due to their supposed high costs—despite evidence to the contrary.

      At a meeting organized by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Obama told several first-term members both that they should continue to pursue “bold” policy agendas—but also injected the familiar right-wing and centrist canard concerning the cost of such programs.

      “He said we [as Democrats] shouldn’t be afraid of big, bold ideas—but also need to think in the nitty-gritty about how those big, bold ideas will work and how you pay for them,” one attendee told the Washington Post.

      The two ideas struck many critics as contradictory. Some slammed the former president for appearing to try to tamp down the ambition, passion, and sense of urgency many freshman including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) have brought to their work—hoping to combat a climate crisis fueled by corporate greed and politicians’ complicity; a for-profit health insurance system which has left tens of millions of Americans without healthcare; and rising economic inequality.

    • Russia and the Democrats

      Two years ago authors Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes wrote in their book Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign that within 24 hours of her 2016 electoral loss, Hillary Clinton’s senior campaign staff decided to blame the loss on Russian interference. Given the apparent source of the charge in opposition research funded by the Clinton campaign, the move seemed both desperate and pathetic— a thread for Clinton’s true believers to hang onto, an effort to keep campaign contributions rolling in and a ploy to cleave liberals from the left through red-baiting.

      For perspective, from the time leading up to the 2016 election through today, I chose to live amongst poor and working-class people of color, with occasional forays into the rural working and middle classes and the urban bourgeois. What became apparent early on is that the audience for the Russian interference story was the urban and suburban bourgeois who had seen their lots by-and-large restored by Barack Obama’s bank bailouts and who had no knowledge of, or interaction with, the 90% of the country that is living, by degree, hand-to-mouth.

      What this implies is that the received wisdom amongst bourgeois Democrats— the bosses, bank managers, academics, realtors and administrative class, looks to be what it is: a combination of class loathing that their ‘lessors’ didn’t perceive the munificent blessing of their electoral choice; mass delusion on the part of self-styled ‘high-information voters’ about who really controls American ‘democracy;’ and studied ignorance of the consequences of the last half-century of bi-partisan neoliberal governance.

    • 2020 is Coming: Ready or Not

      Although the country is nowhere close to the next presidential election, twenty months away to be exact, yet my first Agita attack of the 2020 campaign season is expected at any time. I can feel it coming on.

      To date, there are fifteen announced candidates with that many in the wings deciding whether to give it a Go. It is fair to say many of those contenders would settle for being a Vice Presidential candidate. The Dems are attracting that number of candidates in the belief that PT Barnum will be easy to knock off and under normal circumstances, that would be a correct assessment. But Quantity of candidates does not translate into Quality; hence, an Empty Suit Club (ESC) needs to be established to sort the cattle from the herd.

      According to Real Clear Politics, Bernie is polling at 24% with less support than he garnered in 2016 with former veep Joe Biden at 29%. Does Bernie seriously expect those same people who defrauded him in 2016 to sit by as he takes the prize or even give him a fair shake? It’s not going to happen. Whether Bernie has schmoozed sufficiently with Perez or Wasserman-Schultz or the PTB (powers that be) to be acceptably docile remains a question. It may be that some of the party’s stalwart professionals, now that Russiagate has not delivered as intended, will resume blaming Bernie for Hillary’s loss. Some would almost rather lose again than let Bernie have the last word. In any case, it is difficult to believe that the Dems, the DNC, the MSM or whoever makes that final call will allow Bernie to win the nomination.

      A recent entry into the ranks of the ESC is former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, a friend of the oil and gas industry who is polling at 1%. Hickenlooper opposes Medicare for All and may best be described as a right-centrist. Attendees at the 2018 Builderberg conference had an opportunity to check him out (although his name was later scrubbed from the attendee list) and he must have impressed someone as he raised $1 M immediately after his announcement.

    • ‘Pay Attention to This’: Right-Wing Supreme Court Hints at Troubling Decision on Partisan Gerrymandering

      “A familiar pattern repeated itself,” the Washington Post reported Tuesday after two hours of oral arguments about politically motivated maps. “Liberal justices saw it as a threat to democracy that requires action while conservatives wondered how courts could ever decide when a political process becomes too political.”

      Justices on Tuesday heard arguments for both Lamone v. Benisek and Rucho v. Common Cause, which has been consolidated with Rucho v. League of Women Voters of North Carolina (LWVNC).

      The political maps in these cases, which local leaders have acknowledged were intentionally drawn to benefit the political parties in power, gave an advantage to Republicans in North Carolina and Democrats in Maryland.

      “Both Republicans and Democrats are guilty of rigging the system by drawing lines to maximize their own party’s advantage, so these cases present the justices with a unique opportunity,” said Paul Smith, vice president at the Campaign Legal Center (CLC) and counsel of record for Rucho v. LWVNC. “Voters nationwide are ready for a ruling that will put the voters and not lawmakers first.”

    • Watershed Moment on the Mall

      This approach makes perfect sense in a situation thoroughly saturated with anti-politics; within this situation, the Democrats and the IdPol Left do nothing but throw more fuel on the fire. Absolutely nothing good will come of this, except through the disgust of ordinary working people.

      In the aftermath of the incident there were three main reactions by the Dems/IdPol Left: double-down, move on to the next thing without a glance back, and those who said they “didn’t pay much attention to it.” The latter category in my direct experience consisted in liberal Democrats who are going to support the Democratic Party, and condemn Donald Trump, no matter what, so they don’t need to really look at any particular incident or stunt or what-have-you. All three reactions share the quality of not really caring about what really did or did not happen. In a way, though, the “oh, is Nick Sandmann that boy who was in that incident with the Native American elder … ?” reaction is the most reprehensible.

      Raise the question of this incident with these people, and they just start talking about Trump. In other words, there is no ability to acknowledge or confront the essence of what the Democratic Party has become, which is “politics” as one stunt after another, and just hate, hate, hate.

      At least the IdPol Left embraces its hate—that’s their virtue!

    • Pathological Deceit: The NYT Inverts Reality on Venezuela’s Cuban Doctors

      After debunking Washington’s lies about the burning of “humanitarian aid” trucks on the Venezuelan/Colombian border (more than two weeks after being scooped by independent journalists), the New York Times quickly reverted to form in an article by Nicholas Casey headlined “‘It is Unspeakable’: How Maduro Used Cuban Doctors to Coerce Voters” (3/17/19).

      As the title not-so-subtly suggests, Casey claimed to present bombshell revelations regarding the Nicolás Maduro government’s alleged weaponization of Cuban medical personnel as a means of holding on to power. On closer inspection, however, the article is riddled with factual inaccuracies, omissions and misrepresentations.

      [...]

      The Times’ questionable allegations of denial of care quickly give way to even dodgier claims of Cuban doctors interfering in Venezuelan politics. “One former Cuban supervisor said that she and other foreign medical workers were given counterfeit identification cards to vote in an election,” Casey wrote, adding that Cuban doctors “were asked to vote with false identification” in 2013.

      Anyone who knows how voting works in Venezuela would dismiss these allegations immediately. The first step upon entering a polling station is presenting ID and biometrically scanning fingerprints. Computerized voting screens will literally not open unless a valid fingerprint is presented. Cuban doctors, since they are of course not Venezuelans, would not have their fingerprints in the system, and thus not get past this first step. (It’s worth noting that Cuban doctors in Venezuela number roughly 30,000, in a country with an electorate of around 20 million, making the notion of a secret program to enable them to vote illegally in hopes of affecting electoral outcomes rather far-fetched.)

    • Florida: Why Republican Lawmakers are Defying–and Denying–the Voters

      In Florida’s November 2018 election, voters approved the following amendment to their state’s constitution:

      “Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, any disqualification from voting arising from a felony conviction shall terminate and voting rights shall be restored upon completion of all terms of sentence including parole or probation. (b) No person convicted of murder or a felony sexual offense shall be qualified to vote until restoration of civil rights.”

      Seems pretty clear and concise, doesn’t it? If you’re a convicted felon who’s not a murderer or a rapist, once you’ve “paid your debt to society,” you get to vote just like any other citizen. Period.

      But governor-elect Ron DeSantis announced that the measure would require “implementing legislation.”

    • The Trump Contagion

      US President Donald Trump’s growing rages may partly be the result of cognitive decline, suggested, for example, by his deteriorating ability to form complete sentences, use complex words, and maintain a coherent train of thought. What is certain is that Trump is putting the world at risk

      [...]

      What is certain is that Trump is putting the world at risk. He has now withdrawn from two nuclear treaties, one with Iran that was agreed to by the entire UN Security Council, and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia, in place since 1988. His absurdly incompetent diplomacy with North Korea lies in tatters, with that country now warning of a new round of nuclear tests.

      Under Trump, the US government, alone among all 193 United Nations member countries, has repudiated the global effort to combat climate change, leaving Americans without sane leadership as climate crises grow in intensity. His response to Hurricane Maria, which left more than 3,000 dead in Puerto Rico, was one of contempt for and neglect of the victims, as was his response to the mega-fires that ravaged California last year, claiming dozens of lives, and to the mega-floods now causing catastrophic losses throughout the Midwest.

      Trump’s worldview is echoed by white extremists around the world. Data show a surge in hate crimes in the US since the day after his election, including a doubling in the number of killings by white supremacists, as well as widespread schoolyard bullying in his name and a record number of mass shootings and gun murders. The mass murderer in the Pittsburgh synagogue, the “pipe bomber” who sought to assassinate major Democrats, and the recent mosque shooter in Christchurch, New Zealand, are all examples of the influence of Trump’s echo chamber of violence. During his campaign, he famously boasted that he could “stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody” and not “lose any voters.” Since then, he has repeatedly endorsed violent behavior through taunts, incitement, and, most recently, a warning that his armed followers could spring into action upon his command.

      This type of sadistic leader-follower relationship has cost millions of lives in the past and plunged countries into war and ruin. But it has never before played out in a country with thousands of nuclear weapons and troops in more than 100 countries around the world. Yet, even now, many continue to mistake Trump’s attraction to violence as mere political tactics, rather than the product of a deranged mind.

    • Is Pete Buttigieg the Future of the Democratic Party?

      The South Bend mayor polled at 0 percent in Emerson’s January Iowa poll, conducted before many candidates had joined the 2020 race. He has since formed an exploratory committee but has not officially declared his candidacy.

      “It remains too early to tell whether Buttigieg can maintain this momentum going into the debate season,” writes Vanity Fair’s Tina Ngyuen. “But he certainly appears to have cross-categorical appeal. Buttigieg speaks the language of the heartland and the identity-politics of progressives, while balancing centrist sensibilities (keeping some aspect of private insurance, for instance) with Twitter-friendly galaxy-brain policy proposals (like packing the Supreme Court). If he can stay on the radar of an easily distracted media without any obvious gaffes, the Buttigieg boomlet may have staying power.”

    • Taibbi: As the Mueller Probe Ends, New Russiagate Myths Begin

      That one sentence should end a roughly 33-month national ordeal (the first Russiagate stories date back to July 2016) in which the public was encouraged, both by officials and the press, to believe Donald Trump was a compromised foreign agent.
      After the 2016 election, the storyline instantly became that Trump was an illegitimate president, a foreign operative who’d cheated his way into office and would therefore need to be removed ahead of schedule.
      There were too many stories that dwelled on this theme to count here, but we all saw them. New York asked, Was Trump “meeting his handler” in Helsinki? The Daily Beast asked why he dodged the question: “Is he a Russian asset?”
      (Note: the extravagant use of hack spy-novel language during this period is going to look particularly ridiculous in history books decades from now.)

    • Democrats’ Russophobia Hid Trump’s Real Crimes

      Gerald Horne and Jeff Cohen join host Paul Jay to unpack the Democrat and corporate media obsession with Russiagate, the foreign policy implications, and how it let Trump off the hook on major policy issues

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • EFF Backs Redditor in Fight to Stay Anonymous

      The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is representing an anonymous Reddit commenter who is facing an abusive copyright claim from the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, a group that publishes doctrines for Jehovah’s Witnesses. Today, EFF filed a motion to quash the attempt by Watchtower to unmask the online commenter.

      The commenter referred to as “John Doe” in the filing is a lifelong member of the Jehovah’s Witness community. Using the handle “darkspilver,” Doe has chosen to share comments and concerns via one of Reddit’s online discussion groups. Darkspilver’s posts included a copy of an advertisement asking for donations that appeared on the back of a Watchtower magazine, as well as a chart Doe edited and reformatted to show the kinds of data that the Jehovah’s Witness organization collects and processes. Earlier this year, Watchtower subpoenaed Reddit for information on “darkspilver” as part of a potential copyright lawsuit.

      “Much of the material shared by our client is barely copyrightable,” said EFF Staff Attorney Alex Moss. “That aside, the posts are lawful fair uses—legal ways to use copyrighted material without permission—and Watchtower should know it.”

    • Telegram Provides Nuclear Option to Erase Sent Messages [Ed: With the proprietary software back end one can safely assume that a company keeps a copy (and maybe shares it with a government or two). It isn't really secure, just "enough" (for some).]

      Telegram Messaging on Sunday announced a new privacy rights feature that allows user to delete not only their own comments, but also those of all other participants in the message thread on all devices that received the conversation. Although the move is meant to bolster privacy, it’s likely to spark some controversy.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Green Party responds to inquest of death at Colnbrook detention centre

      “It is devastating to see deep failures in the UK’s barbaric detention system are costing people’s lives. It is a stain on our national conscience that the UK is the only country in Europe to lock people up in detention centres without a time limit. It is time for root and branch reform of our broken immigration system – starting with these brutal detention centres. The Government must commit to a 28 day time limit for detention as a first step towards ending detention for good and building a more humane, community based system.”

    • Detectives on Smollett Case Have Troubling Backgrounds

      The Chicago Police department calls a survivor of violence a ‘liar’ and the world agrees? Nah. Whether we look at it logically, legally, or historically, there’s much more to the story than that.

      I had never heard of Jussie Smollett before the attack and media coverage. I don’t watch TV and had never watched Empire, but something seemed off in the way the story developed so I started investigating. Though it may seem to be merely the story of one celebrity, easily-dismissed, it is a precedent-setting situation – and the attempted precedent is extremely dangerous.

      It must be remembered that Jussie did not want to call the police after he was attacked by two people yelling racial and homophobic slurs. His 60-year-old friend called 911 and convinced him to file a police report. This is written on the police report.

      What kind of officer arrived? The three detectives on the police report – Kim Murray and Vincent Cecchin, and their supervisor, Joseph Considine – have 35 criminal allegations on their records from Chicago civilians. This data can be found in the Citizens Police Data Project created by the Invisible Institute who sued the city of Chicago to “reveal in-depth information on the complaint histories of selected Chicago police officers.”

      It would be helpful to look at the conduct history of all the detectives who allegedly joined the investigation in the following days.

      Within weeks, a huge scandal erupted. Chicago police talked about an ongoing investigation in unprecedented ways then charged Jussie with lying. Criminalizing the reporting of a hate crime by charging the reporter with ‘lying’ and 16 felonies is an extremely dangerous thing to allow in this country during these times.

    • Prosecutors Abruptly Drop Criminal Charges Against Jussie Smollett

      Prosecutors on Tuesday abruptly dropped all charges against Jussie Smollett, the “Empire” actor who was accused of lying to police about being the target of a racist, anti-gay attack in downtown Chicago, his attorneys said.

      Smollett’s attorneys said his record had “been wiped clean” of the 16 felony counts related to making a false report that he was assaulted by two men. The actor insisted that he had “been truthful and consistent on every single level since day one.”

      “I would not be my mother’s son if I was capable of one drop of what I was being accused of,” he told reporters after a court hearing. He thanked the state of Illinois “for attempting to do what’s right.”

      It was not immediately clear what prompted the decision to dismiss the case. Typically, a minimum condition of dropping cases is some acceptance of responsibility. In a statement, the Cook County prosecutors’ office offered no detailed explanation.

      “After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollett’s volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond to the City of Chicago, we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case,” the statement from spokeswoman Tandra Simonton said.

    • House Fails to Override Trump Veto of His Border Emergency

      The Democratic-controlled House fell short Tuesday in its effort to override President Donald Trump’s first veto, handing him a victory in his drive to spend billions more for constructing barriers along the Southwest border than Congress has approved.

      Lawmakers voted 248-181 in favor of overturning his veto, mostly along party lines, but that was 38 votes shy of the number needed for the required two-thirds majority.

      The outcome, not a surprise, enabled Trump to move forward on an issue that was a hallmark of his 2016 presidential campaign and of his presidency. Yet the vote also gave Democrats a way to refocus on policy differences with Trump, days after Attorney General William Barr gave the president a political boost by saying special counsel Robert Mueller had concluded that Trump had not colluded with Russia to influence his election.

      Congress sent Trump a resolution this month annulling the national emergency that Trump had declared at the US-Mexico border. That included passage by the Republican-led Senate, in which 12 GOP senators — nearly 1 of every 4 — voted with Democrats to block him.

    • The Dangerous and Unrelenting Extremism of Clarence Thomas

      Do Republican-appointed Supreme Court justices get more liberal as they age? A formidable body of academic research suggests that they do. This idea offers a sliver of comfort to those alarmed by Donald Trump’s appointment of Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to the nation’s most powerful judicial body, as well as by the even more disturbing prospect that if Trump is reelected, he may get to place additional conservatives on the court.

      Although no one is sure what causes this liberalizing dynamic, it’s easy to track the process in the careers of such GOP appointees as the late Harry Blackmun, the author of the majority opinion in Roe v. Wade, and, more recently, in the records compiled by retired Justices David Souter, John Paul Stevens and Anthony Kennedy. As I have pointed out in this column before, we can even discern a modest move to the left by Chief Justice John Roberts.

      As with most rules and research, however, there are exceptions. Enter Justice Clarence Thomas. Unlike some of his GOP counterparts, Thomas has demonstrated no migration to the ideological center. If anything, he’s become increasingly radical over time.

      Thomas, who will turn 71 in June, was appointed by President George H.W. Bush in 1991 to replace the liberal stalwart Thurgood Marshall. Marshall was the first African-American to serve on the court. Thomas is the second.

    • Mueller Didn’t Exonerate Trump of Obstruction of Justice

      The Mueller report is finally done. On March 23, Special Counsel Robert Mueller sent the confidential report of his 22-month investigation to Attorney General William Barr. Less than 48 hours later, Barr released a four-page letter outlining Mueller’s conclusions and jumping to one as well.

      In response to Barr’s letter, Donald Trump claimed, “There was no obstruction, none whatsoever, and it was a complete and total exoneration.” But Mueller did not exonerate Trump of obstruction of justice.

      The Mueller report contains three main findings.

      First, Barr writes, “The report outlines the Russian effort to influence the election and documents crimes committed by persons associated with the Russian government in connection with those efforts.” Mueller makes clear that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

      Second, according to Barr, “The Special Counsel’s investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.” In other words, there was no finding of collusion.

    • Sixth Circuit Affirms First Amendment Protections For Flipping Off Cops

      Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Debra Cruise-Gulyas received an “impeding traffic” ticket from Officer Matthew Minard. To show her appreciation for his fine policework, Cruise-Gulyas shot him the bird as she rolled away. Not the best idea but, as the district court declared, a perfectly legal hand gesture.

      The adage opening this post also goes for cops. Officer Matthew Minard decided the hand gesture warranted another traffic stop. Sure, he had the power to initiate a traffic stop. The problem was he didn’t have any legal reason to do so. As the court noted, the infraction (speeding) Minard had only issued a warning for nevertheless completed the traffic stop. Pulling Cruise-Gulyas over again for the infraction he had chosen not to enforce to its fullest extent could not be used a probable cause for a second stop when Cruise-Gulyas was flipping the bird at a legal rate of speed.

    • Why Activists Fail

      Despite enormous ongoing effort over more than a thousand years, during and since the formation and shaping of the modern world, and as the number of issues being contested has steadily increased, activists of many types have made insufficient progress on key issues, particularly in relation to ending violence and war (and the threat of nuclear war), stopping the exploitation of many peoples and halting the endless assaults on Earth’s biosphere.

      Of course, in order for those of us who identify as activists to have any prospect of success in these and other endeavors, we need to understand how the world works and to develop an interrelated set of nonviolent strategies that are being effectively implemented to address each of the key aspects of this crisis.

      This is because there is a great deal wrong with how the human world functions and a staggering amount that needs to be done if we are to fix it and preserve the planetary biosphere in doing so, particularly given that the primary threats are now so serious that human extinction is likely to occur within a few years. See ‘Human Extinction by 2026? A Last Ditch Strategy to Fight for Human Survival’.

    • Pentagon Aims to Surveil Social Media to Predict Anti-Trump Protests
    • Digital Prisons: Ankle Monitors Are Expensive, Ineffective, and Inhumane

      Electronic monitoring (EM) technology continues to gain popularity as pressure to reduce incarceration mounts. Law enforcement’s use of EM more than doubled between 2005 and 2015. It seems humane—allowing people to live at home and move about more freely than behind bars. But those who have lived with EM know that it’s simply incarceration by another name.

      Recent research reveals that electronic monitoring limits the freedom and potential success of people on parole. EM negatively impacts their finances, their personal relationships and it increases their chances of being re-incarcerated. The monitors also make it difficult for people to hold down jobs, undergo medical procedures, or run common errands.

    • A TALE OF TWO TICKETS

      You can have radically different experiences with getting pulled over depending on your skin color.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • WATCH: Campaigners Hope Viral Livestream Can Thwart Telecom Effort to Sabotage Net Neutrality Bill

      Beginning at 10 am ET, the House Communications and Technology Subcommittee will convene to mark up and vote on the Save the Internet Act, which advocates say is the best plan to fully restore the net neutrality protections repealed by the Republican-controlled FCC in 2017.

      To ensure the legislation passes out of committee uncorrupted by any telecom-friendly amendments, the Battle for the Net coalition is calling on websites, online communities, and individuals to spread the hearing across the web and social media using its embeddable widget.

    • Real Net Neutrality Protections Passed Their First Vote

      The Save the Internet Act (H.R. 1644) has survived its first vote, 18-11. This is a victory for everyone who wants strong, real net neutrality protections. It is, as is so often the case in the net neutrality battle, a win for the majority of Americans who support these protections against the narrow interests of a few giant Internet service providers (ISPs).

      Millions of American across the country denounced the FCC’s decision to repeal the 2015 Open Internet Order and abandon oversight over the broadband industry. Americans overwhelmingly support net neutrality and the privacy and competition protections that accompany it. The FCC nonetheless tried to ignore common sense, market realities, and the public interest. This bill sets things right, following a clear mandate from the American people. We applaud the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology for listenting to the thousands of you who have spoken up for net neutrality.

      The Save the Internet Act would make permanent the 2015 Open Internet Order, restoring its hard-won net neutrality protections. There have been arguments against this bill, many restated during the hearing today. Rep. Greg Walden described the bill as having unnecessary protections, suggesting that all we need are bright line rules against blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization. Walden also listed problems of privacy and speech faced by edge providers like Facebook, Google, and Twitter, asking “What if anything does this bill do to protect users from those potential abuses?” Those are real concerns and EFF has suggested that Congress look at a lot of ways to improve competition on the Internet, but they are different from net neutrality, which requires ISPs to treat data in a non-discriminatory manner. Tackling one set of problems should not mean we abandon the work being done on another. Rep. Debbie Dingell had it correct when she said, “I just want to comment about what we’re really here to do. We’re asking a lot of questions and making it really complicated, and it’s really simple. Today we’re addressing a wrong that was created by Chairman Pai when he abolished net neutrality. And he hurt millions of Americans across this country.”

    • Bill to Restore Net Neutrality Passes Key Subcommittee Vote Unscathed
    • Over 300,000 Internet Users Tune In as Net Neutrality Bill Clears Major Hurdle ‘Unscathed’

      “The eruption of grassroots support had an impact, and the bill passed the subcommittee vote without issue,” Fight for the Future, which spearheaded the online campaign, said in a statement. “In the end, only one amendment was introduced, and it was withdrawn after pushback from the majority, emboldened by the swell in activism.”

    • Save the Internet Act Passes Critical Milestone in House Communications & Technology Subcommittee Markup
  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • The Recent US Supreme Court Decision – Helsinn v Teva, And (Not So) Secret Sales

      In 2000, Helsinn entered clinical trials relating to the dosage of a drug named palonosetron for treating chemotherapy induced nausea. Shortly thereafter, under a series of confidential agreements, Helsinn agreed a licensing agreement with MGI Partners Inc. who acquired the rights to distribute and market the product. While the cooperation between parties was publicly known, the technical details of the invention were not disclosed.

      On January 30th 2003, Helsinn filed a provisional patent detailing the specific dosage of palonosetron. A series of patents were filed claiming priority from this application, the fourth of which, US 8,598,219 (US ’219), was granted by the USPTO in May 2013.

      In 2011, Teva Pharmaceuticals sought approval from the FDA to create a generic version of Helsinn’s product. When Helsinn sued for infringement of their patent, Teva counterclaimed that the patent was invalid.

      The amended AIA 35 U.S.C § 102 conditions for patentability stipulate that “a person shall be entitled to a patent unless (1) the claimed invention was patented, described in a printed publication, or in public use, on sale, or otherwise available to the public before the effective filing date of the claimed invention” [emphasis added] (see here). An exception to this rule includes anything disclosed by the inventor 12 months before filing a relevant patent application (known as the “grace period”).

    • Trademarks

      • Trademarking the Seven Dirty Words

        With the Supreme Court agreeing to hear the Brunetti case on the registration of scandalous trademarks, one might wonder whether allowing such scandalous marks will open the floodgates of registrations.

      • FUCT® – An Early Empirical Study of Trademark Registration of Scandalous and Immoral Marks Aftermath of the In re Brunetti Decision

        This article seeks to create an early empirical benchmark on registrations of marks that would have failed registration as “scandalous” or “immoral” under Lanham Act Section 2(a) before the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit’s In re Brunetti decision of December, 2017. The Brunetti decision followed closely behind the Supreme Court’s Matal v. Tam and put an end to examiners denying registration on the basis of Section 2(a). In Tam, the Supreme Court reasoned that Section 2(a) embodied restrictions on free speech, in the case of “disparaging” marks, which were clearly unconstitutional. The Federal circuit followed that same logic and labeled those same Section 2(a) restrictions as unconstitutional in the case of “scandalous” and “immoral” marks. Before the ink was dry in Brunetti, commentators wondered how lifting the Section 2(a) restrictions would affect the volume of registrations of marks previously made unregistrable by that same section. Predictions ran the gamut from “business as usual” to scenarios where those marks would proliferate to astronomical levels. Eleven months out from Brunetti, it is hard to say with certainty what could happen, but this study has gathered the number of registrations as of October 2018 and the early signs seem to indicate a future not much altered, despite early concerns to the contrary.

    • Copyrights

      • Enough MEPs Say They Mistakenly Voted For Articles 11 & 13 That The Vote Should Have Flipped; EU Parliament Says Too Bad

        Earlier today we wrote about the terrible vote by the EU Parliament to approve the Copyright Directive including the dangerous Articles 11 and 13. As we noted in the original post, the key vote was whether to allow amendments that could have deleted those two articles. That vote failed by just five votes, 317 to 312. Unfortunately, soon after the vote was finalized, a few of the MEPs who voted against the plan for amendments — Peter Lundgren and Kristina Winberg — said they voted incorrectly and meant to vote for the amendments in order to get rid of Articles 11 and 13.

      • A Dark Day for the Web: EU Parliament Approves Damaging Copyright Rules

        Today in Strasbourg, the European Parliament voted 348-274 (with 36 abstentions) to approve the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. It retains Article 13, the harmful provision that will require nearly all for-profit web platforms to get a license for every user upload or otherwise install content filters and censor content, lest they be held liable for infringement. Article 11 also passed, which would force news aggregators to pay publishers for linking to their stories.

        There was a potential opportunity to vote on amendments that would have removed the most problematic provisions in the draft directive, particularly Articles 13 and 11, but the preliminary vote even to consider amendments fell short by five votes, thus pushing the Parliament to move ahead and simply approve the entire package.

        MEP Julia Reda called the decision “a dark day for internet freedom.” We agree. There was a massive outpouring of protest against the dangers of Article 13 to competition, creativity, and freedom of expression. This included 5+ million petition signatures, a gigantic action of emails and calls to MEPs, 170,000 people demonstrating in the in the streets, large websites and communities going dark, warnings from academics, consumer groups, startups and businesses, internet luminaries, and the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression. Even so, it was not enough to convince the European legislator to change course on this complex and damaging provision that will turn the web upside down.

      • RIAA Continues Its Legal War To Turn ISPs Into The Copyright Police: Sues Charter Communications

        The RIAA’s war to force internet access providers to become copyright cops has continued to move forward. The RIAA planned this strategy out years ago, in the wake of losing the SOPA fight. Back in 2012 we wrote about an internal plan to try to convince courts that Section 512(i) of the DMCA actually mean that ISPs had to completely kick users off the internet based solely on accusations of infringement. The end goal here is, as always with the RIAA, to get everyone else to try to police the internet.

        Part of the issue here is the incredibly inartful drafting of the DMCA, that has lead to multiple lawsuits over how conflicting aspects of the law should be interpreted. The results over the last decade or so of cases tend to have the courts simply deciding in favor of the more sympathetic party, rather than with any consistency as to the law itself. So, in the Viacom/YouTube case, the court required “actual knowledge” rather than the “general knowledge” that Viacom sought. Yet, in the IsoHunt case (unsympathetic defendant), the court found “red flag” knowledge to be enough. In the first case testing the RIAA’s theories on 512(i) and ISPs, against Cox, the RIAA won, but mainly due to Cox’s own bad behavior (specifically: internal employees mocked and did not follow the company’s own repeat infringer policy).

        In the second case testing this theory, against Grande Communications, as was widely expected given an earlier magistrate judge’s opinion, the court has said that Grande does not qualify for the DMCA’s safe harbors, and therefore may be liable for infringement on its network. Once again, as with Cox, Grande’s own actions appeared to doom its argument for safe harbors. The company admitted that it didn’t actually have a repeat infringer policy. It had a stated one, but no effort was made to follow it internally — and since 512(i) requires a “reasonably implemented” policy, the lack of any plan to implement it means… no safe harbors. As we noted when the magistrate judge recommended this finding, this does not mean that Grande automatically loses the case. The RIAA still will need to prove contributory infringement on the part of Grande, which might not be that easy since it will have to show that Grande actively induced people to infringe (as per the Supreme Court’s standard in the Grokster case).

      • Mozilla statement on the adoption of the EU Copyright directive

        There is nothing to celebrate today. With a chance to bring copyright rules into the 21st century the EU institutions have squandered the progress made by innovators and creators to imagine new content and share it with people across the world, and have instead handed the power back to large US owned record labels, film studios and big tech.

        People online everywhere will feel the impact of this disastrous vote and we fully expect copyright to return to the political stage. Until then we will do our best to minimise the negative impact of this law on Europeans’ internet experience and the ability of European companies to compete in the digital marketplace

      • EU Puts An End To The Open Internet: Link Taxes And Filters Approved By Just 5 Votes

        Well, it was a nice run while it lasted, but the EU Parliament has just put an end to the open internet. By the incredibly thin margin of just five votes, the Parliament voted to approve the EU Copyright Directive, including the terrible versions of both Article 11 and 13. This is an inauspicious day and one that the EU will almost certainly come to regret. While we now need to see how each of the member states will implement the actual laws put forth in the Directive (meaning the damage in some states may be more mitigatable than in others), on the whole the EU Copyright Directive requires laws that effectively end the open internet as an open communications medium. Sites that previously allowed content creators to freely publish content will now be forced to make impossible choices: license all content (which is literally impossible), filter all content (expensive and failure-prone), or shut down. Sites that used to send traffic to news sources may now need to reconsider, as doing so will inexplicably require payment.

      • ‘Dark Day for Internet Freedom’: EU Approves Rules to Create Online Censorship Machine

        Articles 11 and 13, the two most controversial components of the copyright overhaul, were left unchanged after MEPs voted against allowing amendments that would have removed them.

        “Today’s vote is a major blow to the open internet. This directive positions the internet as a tool for corporations and profits—not for people,” said OpenMedia Executive Director Laura Tribe. “By approving Articles 11 and 13, the EU Parliament not only rubber stamped bad legislation, but also ignored the voices of millions of its own concerned constituents.”

        As The Verge’s James Vincent reported, “Article 11 lets publishers charge platforms like Google News when they display snippets of news stories, while Article 13 (renamed Article 17 in the most recent draft of the legislation) gives sites like YouTube new duties to stop users from uploading copyrighted content.”

        Critics warn that Article 11 could ultimately become a “link tax,” which would charge websites for linking to news articles.

      • Article 13: EU passes copyright directive which will lead to a more censored internet

        The European Union (EU) has passed all articles, including Article 13 and Article 11, of the Copyright in the Digital Single Market Directive. Article 13 of the copyright directive mandates that websites are responsible for keeping copyrighted materials off of their site – in the most absolute sense. Over the next two years, the directive will need to be written into law in each of the EU member states – thought none of the companies in any of the states know how they will comply with the coming laws. The EU’s actions today will lead to a more censored and less private internet with more surveillance. Julia Reda, a member of the European Parliament that has been campaigning against Article 13 and Article 11 for years, summarized concisely in a Reddit AMA:

      • Article 13 is an attack on the open internet – Bits of Freedom

        Today, a majority of the European Parliament voted in favor of the new copyright directive and the controversial “Article 13”. Sold as the only way to prevent copyright infringement, the regulation will introduce algorithmic filters on all the major communication platforms, which will analyse and assess users’ every upload. This will have a huge negative impact on the range and quality of public discourse and entrench the existing tech monopolies.

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